Only three MPs call for Theresa May to resign imminently, Sky poll finds

6 October 2017, 17:35

An overwhelming number of Tory MPs do not want Theresa May to resign imminently over concerns about her leadership.

Only three MPs have admitted to Sky News that they want the Prime Minister to go, after former party chairman Grant Shapps said 30 wanted her to stand down.

Sky News contacted 285 MPs, and of the 103 who either replied or spoke publicly, just three called for Mrs May to go. One hundred said there should be no immediate change to the leadership.

Sky sources say that David Cameron has been in touch with his successor in Downing Street and remains fully behind Mrs May.

But despite this some MPs still expressed serious reservations about Mrs May's abilities, and hinted she was one crisis away from being forced out.

:: May insists she has 'full support' of Cabinet

One current MP and former minister denied to Sky News that they were behind any "plot" but that the PM would find it "very, very difficult to survive".

They said the "image of her leaving Downing Street with tears in her eyes" would have a profound effect on the party.

But they added there were "probably many more" than the 30 disaffected MPs allegedly held on a list by Mr Shapps, warning: "I think the party is in a dreadful hole".

"I think the damage that would be done to the party if she was forced out would be immense, and like many others I hope she herself will conclude that the best thing would be to go."

:: Grant Shapps: Who is Tory MP leading plot against May?

"What Grant is saying is widely agreed with."

Another current MP and former minister who said Mrs May should step down told Sky News "the writing is on the wall - I can't see her going on".

Most MPs Sky News contacted said Mrs May should stay on for the good of party and country, praising her "grit" after a problem-plagued conference speech.

Some simply offered their "full support" and said they were "100%" backing the PM.

:: Analysis: Will PM survive or choose to press eject herself?

But others went further, taking swipes at their colleagues.

One MP told Sky News the leadership challenge rumours were "a way of settling old scores, led by someone with little experience of working as a team player".

Another accused "Remainers" of trying to "derail Brexit" by destabalising Mrs May so they could "better control" a push for policies like remaining in the Customs Union.

An informed source also claimed MP Nadine Dorries was leading a "witch-hunt" against some colleagues in the closely-guarded Tory MPs WhatsApp group.

:: Public think Theresa May is a weak leader - Sky Data poll

"They check the message has been read and then if there is no answer, Nadine presumes they are on the list," the source told Sky News.

"Hilariously they have added Shapps to the group today so he can see all the angry responses from backbenchers."

The source also claimed that Downing Street's gamble to flush Mr Shapps out by briefing the media first had led to more people on his list converting into actual letters sent to the influential 1922 Committee.

They cautioned the move was not over - and that a challenge did not have to happen "immediately".

Mrs May could struggle to discipline her party's former chairman, given the tight numbers game she faces in the Commons without a majority government.

Mr Shapps is also understood to have the full support of his constituency association.

But another MP did warn: "The duty is on us to support the leadership with the necessary discipline."

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