'It's the last thing we need': Ministers' dismay at leadership challenge against Theresa May
Cabinet ministers have all given Theresa May their backing ahead of a vote on her leadership this evening.
Despite the threshold for a no confidence vote being met, the PM could still win the vote and continues as leader, boosted by the support from her ministers.
Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, said a ballot would be held between 6pm and 8pm on Wednesday in the Commons.
Mrs May said today she would ‘contest this vote with all I’ve got’, refusing to back down in the face of mounting criticism over her Brexit deal.
Just moments after the news about a vote was announced, prominent Tories quickly backed the PM, and 100 Conservative MPs have so far tweeted in support of Mrs May.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: ‘I am backing @theresa_may tonight. Being PM most difficult job imaginable right now and the last thing the country needs is a damaging and long leadership contest.
COUNTDOWN TO BREXIT – LATEST ANALYSIS FROM YAHOO UK
Where do Theresa May’s ministers stand on Brexit?
Post-Brexit trip to Europe? Try these non-EU alternatives
Bank of England governor ‘confident’ about UK banks’ Brexit readiness
Don’t be fooled – the biggest battle over Brexit starts now
Hard Brexit ‘could cripple UK science’ warn Nobel Prize winners
‘Brexit was never going to be easy but she is the best person to make sure we actually leave the EU on March 29.’
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘The last thing our country needs right now is a Conservative Party leadership election. Will be seen as self-indulgent and wrong. PM has my full support and is best person to ensure we leave EU on 29 March.’
I am backing @theresa_may tonight. Being PM most difficult job imaginable right now and the last thing the country needs is a damaging and long leadership contest. Brexit was never going to be easy but she is the best person to make sure we actually leave the EU on March 29
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) December 12, 2018
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) December 12, 2018
The Prime Minister has worked hard in the National interest since the day she took office and will have my full support in the vote tonight. Her deal means we leave the EU on time, whist protecting our jobs and our businesses.
— Philip Hammond (@PhilipHammondUK) December 12, 2018
I will support the Prime Minister @theresa_may tonight. This is a totally inappropriate time to have a contest. The country expects us to provide stability not damaging division.
— Dr Liam Fox MP (@LiamFox) December 12, 2018
Chancellor Philip Hammond followed suit to come out in support of Mrs May, tweeting: ‘The Prime Minister has worked hard in the national interest since the day she took office and will have my full support in the vote tonight. Her deal means we leave the EU on time, whist protecting our jobs and our businesses.’
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: ‘Strongly support @theresa_may to continue as Leader of @Conservatives and Prime Minister. Now is not the time for this distraction and even more uncertainty. We need to get behind the Prime Minister in the best interests of our country.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: ‘I’m voting for the Prime Minister tonight and urge all colleagues to do the same.’
Any colleague who believes changing our leader during the negotiations is in our country’s interest should think again. I will be supporting the Prime Minister tonight.
— Stephen Hammond MP (@S_Hammond) December 12, 2018
Clearly I’m disappointed that some in my party have triggered a vote of no confidence just as the PM is having a series of international meetings to deliver Brexit.
I will, of course, be voting in support of Theresa May.
— James Cleverly (@JamesCleverly) December 12, 2018
I shall be supporting the Prime Minister this evening. This is no time for the self indulgent spasm of a leadership election. Nothing fundamental will be altered by it. This is a time to show loyalty and discipline in supporting the PM in discharging the duties of government.
— Geoffrey Cox QC MP (@Geoffrey_Cox) December 12, 2018
The Prime Minister has my full support, not least because she has always done what she firmly believes is in the national interest. Our country needs us all to fight for a good deal and prepare for a no deal senario. All eyes and hands should be on that task.
— Penny Mordaunt MP (@PennyMordaunt) December 12, 2018
Vital to support @theresa_may today. She is working hard in the interest of the U.K. to get a good Brexit deal and she has my full support.
— Andrea Leadsom MP (@andrealeadsom) December 12, 2018
The Prime Minister has my full support. She works relentlessly hard for our country and is the best person to make sure we leave the EU on 29 March and continue to deliver our domestic agenda.
— Gavin Williamson MP (@GavinWilliamson) December 12, 2018
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt posted: ‘The Prime Minister has my full support, not least because she has always done what she firmly believes is in the national interest. Our country needs us all to fight for a good deal and prepare for a no deal scenario. All eyes and hands should be on that task.’
And Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said Mrs May has his ‘full support’.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said he was ‘disappointed’ that the letters have gone in, but said: ‘I hope that the Prime Minister will win tonight and win well.’
Environment Secretary Michael Gove tweeted: ‘I am backing the Prime Minister 100% – and I urge every Conservative MP to do the same. She is battling hard for our country and no one is better placed to ensure we deliver on the British people’s decision to leave the EU.’
Transport Secretary and prominent Brexiteer Chris Grayling said: ‘I will be backing Theresa May tonight. At this crucial point, the last thing the country needs is a prolonged and introspective leadership contest.’
While the Cabinet publicly backs her, other Tory MPs have stated they will vote against her in an attempt to trigger a leadership election.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Andrea Jenkyns, James Duddridge and Nadine Dorries are among those who will vote to bring down Mrs May.