Grant Shapps to lead Tory Party mutiny as support for May falls

The Prime Minister had gone into the conference in Manchester insisting she would lead her party into the next general election, but it is now highly unlikely that Mrs May will head another campaign.

May's already precarious position looked even worse after her speech was plagued by a prankster trying to deliver a redundancy notice as she spoke, lettering falling from the conference slogan behind her and a persistent cough that affected her voice.

"If ever the PM needed a metaphor for service and duty and resolution through adversity, that battling performance was it!"

To trigger a formal leadership challenge, 48 Conservative lawmakers need to write to the chairman of the party's so-called 1922 Committee.

"I believe Theresa May is a very decent person but unfortunately fought an election that didn't work", Shapps, a former party chair, told BBC Radio 4's Today program, referring to May's decision to call a snap election in June, in which she lost the Tories' majority in parliament.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is widely seen as a rival for May's job.

What should have been remembered as a landmark speech in the political career of British Prime Minister Theresa May, turned out to be series of unfortunate events. "She will carry on and she will make a success of this government", he said.

His allies are said to have stepped up efforts to canvass potential support for a leadership bid following the PM's speech.

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The Opportunities Party has just over 2 percent support, and leader Gareth Morgan has conceded it won't be in the next Parliament. She said Labour hadn't "done as well as I would have liked" but she would continue to be "relentlessly positive".

The Chancellor handed the Prime Minister some candies to help her but it did not appear to work and May continued to cough throughout her address.

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.

Most of the Scottish papers lead with Theresa May's speech at the Conservative Party conference which is described as a "shambles" and a "farce".

"Then yesterday, journalists contacted me and told me the whips are saying 'you've got the list'". Again, she managed a joke as Treasury chief Philip Hammond handed her a throat lozenge, saying the audience should note that he was "giving something away for free".

"But this is a view I have held for quite some time, quite a lot of colleagues feel the same way, including five former Cabinet ministers".

Asked to characterise her mood as she came off stage, the source said: "Good".

Following the speech on Wednesday, a number of Cabinet ministers are understood to have telephoned the Prime Minister to offer their backing.

  • Megan Austin