A former Conservative minister has suggested that Theresa May’s ill-fated speech to her party conference in Manchester had left a number of MPs convinced that the time had come for her to resign.
Ed Vaizey said that he was finding it “increasingly difficult to see a way forward” and was worried about the state of the party.
“I think there will be quite a few people who will now be pretty firmly of the view that she should resign,” the former culture minister, who was sacked when May took over in 2016 after six years in government, told the BBC.
“The Tory party conference was a great opportunity to reboot the party and therefore reboot the country to give a clear sense of direction and that did not happen, and so, yes, I am concerned.”
Vaizey’s comments came as another former minister said the prime minister had gone into the party conference two crises away from needing to go, and now had one chance left.
A third quoted Macbeth, saying: “Opinion in the party is moving from, ‘Oh god we better hang on til after Brexit,’ to ‘If it were done when tis done, then twere well it were done quickly.”
But others questioned the motives of some of those speaking out.
The small business minister, Margot James, told Newsnight: “There are some ex-cabinet ministers or ex-ministers who are extremely embittered individuals who just want to get their own back – on the fact that they don’t feel recognised and, you know, life is full of that, you have to move on, keep going and disregard it. That would be my advice to the prime minister.
“We saw a much more human side. People did sympathise but not in a pity sense.”
And others rallied around the prime minister with supportive messages from cabinet ministers, some of whom got directly in touch with May to insist she had their backing. The home secretary, Amber Rudd, the first secretary of state, Damian Green, and the environment secretary, Michael Gove, were among those offering their support.
George Freeman MP said losing your voice and being heckled was not a reason for a leadership debate, as he compared May to the Queen.
“I think the prime minister has a very strong sense of commitment to duty, to public service. In the same way that Her Majesty the Queen puts public service at the heart of everything she does, the prime minister is driven by a very deep sense of public service to country.”
Freeman said the party had needed an apology for the election and got that from the prime minister in her speech. And he argued that the prime minister had shown a human side, offered humour and put forward her political motivations.
This article was written by Anushka Asthana Political editor, for theguardian.com on Thursday 5th October 2017 13.31 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010