Theresa May insists she has 'full support' of Cabinet after leadership challenge

Theresa May has responded to claims of a plot by Tory MPs to oust her by saying she is providing "calm leadership" with the "full support" of her Cabinet.

Speaking in her Maidenhead constituency, the Prime Minister told reporters she had "had a cold all week".

But she insisted all ministers backed her to remain in the top job.

She added that MPs would get an update on her Florence speech next week and that the energy cap policy announced at the Tory conference would soon begin its progress through Parliament.

Mrs May's comments follow former party chairman Grant Shapps' claim that he and 30 other MPs - including "one or two Cabinet ministers" - had agreed to call on her to resign.

Mr Shapps said his party "must look for a new leader" and compared Mrs May's situation to the end of Gordon Brown and John Major's time in power, telling Sky News: "I don't think we're heading anywhere different."

He said the list of MPs was drawn up "long before" the party conference, but that Downing Street had "pleaded" with him not to go public to upstage the event.

Mr Shapps blamed party whips for briefing the media in order to force his hand.

He joins former minister Ed Vaizey, who said he was finding it "increasingly difficult" to see a way forward with Mrs May, as the only two MPs openly calling for her to go.

Under party rules, 48 MPs are needed to force a leadership contest.

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But two serving Cabinet ministers have come out to defend Mrs May.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said ousting her would be a betrayal of everyone who voted Conservative in the general election or backed Leave in the EU referendum.

While Home Secretary Amber Rudd insisted the PM "should stay" despite the "presentation fails" in her problem-plagued conference speech.

Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the influential Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, also played down the threat of a coup.

"Number 10 must be delighted to learn that it is Grant Shapps leading this alleged coup," he said.

"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."

Many backbench MPs are also furious at Mr Shapps.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant tweeted minutes after Mr Shapps' interview: "I wouldn't buy a used car from one embittered colleague - let alone take advice from him about who should be PM.Theresa May should remain."

Nadine Dorries also took a dig at Labour as she laughed off the challenge to the PM.

She told Sky News: "If Grant Shapps has 30 names then Diane Abbott is doing the counting."