Grant Shapps says ‘the time has come’ for Theresa May to go6th October 2017
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David Cameron loyalist Grant Shapps has revealed himself as one of the ringleaders behind a bid to oust Theresa May, saying “the time has come” for the Prime Minister to go.
The former party chairman made series of TV appearances this morning, saying there is growing support among MPs for a leadership contest following Theresa May’s chaotic conference speech.
“A growing number of number of my colleagues, we realise that the solution isn’t to bury our heads in the sand and just hope things will get better.
“It never worked out for Brown or Major and I don’t think it is going to work out here either.”
Five former Cabinet ministers have joined a plot to force Theresa May to quit (Rex)
“The time has come for Theresa May to go. We can’t just carry on.”
He also told BBC Radio 5 Live last night: “I think she should call a leadership election. The writing is on the wall.”
Mr Shapps is trying to rally 48 colleagues, the number needed to trigger a new leadership contest after the Prime Minister’s disastrous cough-dominated party conference speech in Manchester.
Michael Gove, meanwhile, gave an interview this morning in which he rallied to the defence of Mrs May.
“The Prime Minister has been doing a fantastic job,” he told the Today programme.
“She showed an amazing degree of resilience and courage this week, of a piece with the fantastic leadership she has shown through the time that she has been Prime Minister.”
It is thought that around 30 Tory MPs are backing the calls for a leadership election – short of the 48 needed to force a contest under party rules.
Mr Shapps would not be drawn on the number but did confirm that he had the support of five former Cabinet ministers.
Charles Walker, vice chairman of the powerful Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said it was clear that the rebels lacked the support to force out the Prime Minister.
“Number 10 must be delighted to learn that it is Grant Shapps leading this alleged coup,” he told the BBC.
“Grant has many talents but the one thing he doesn’t have is a following in the party. I really think this is now just going to fizzle out.
“What you are seeing here is probably a coalition of disappointed people who think their brilliant talents have not been fully recognised.”
Mr Gove said the “overwhelming majority” of Tory MPs – including the “entirety” of the Cabinet – want Mrs May to carry on.
“The truth is that the overwhelming majority of people want the Prime Minister to concentrate on doing the job which 14 million people elected her to do earlier this year,” he said.
“I think it would be disrespectful to those 14 million people to do anything other than concentrate on those areas where action is necessary.”
Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: “Inundated with message of support 4 @theresa-may frm members. @grantshapps has misjudged the mood of the party&MPs”.
Business Minister Margot James said Mr Shapps does not enjoy wide support in the party after he resigned as chairman following allegations of bullying in the Tories’ youth wing.
She posted: “Since road trip turmoil under his party chairmanship Grant Shapps lacks a base in the party.”
Veteran backbencher Michael Fabricant suggested Mr Shapps held a grudge because he is no longer a minister.
“I wouldn’t buy a used car from one embittered colleague – let alone take advice from him about who should be PM,” he said.
“Theresa May should remain.”
Nadine Dorries, an ally of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has been the subject of speculation about a potential leadership bid amid his perceived disloyalty over Brexit in recent weeks, claimed Mr Shapps was part of a group of Remain-backing MPs seeking to reverse the decision to quit the EU.
She tweeted: “The plot is by remain MPs to topple the PM, destroy Boris and put a remain leader in place to delay and possibly destroy £Brexit”.
Transport Minister Jesse Norman posted: “This is absolutely not what the country needs. The team needs to get behind the PM 100%.”
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