May told she must hold Johnson to his expressions of loyalty
The Prime Minister could have a Cabinet reshuffle in an attempt to repair the damage to her authority, reports have said.
Theresa May has been told she must hold Boris Johnson to his expressions of loyalty amid speculation about the Foreign Secretary’s position.
The Prime Minister vowed she would not “hide from a challenge” amid reports she could have a Cabinet reshuffle in an attempt to repair the damage to her authority.
Mrs May, who appears to have seen off an immediate attempt to oust her after her mishap-hit conference speech, is still vulnerable and has come under pressure to bring new faces into her top team in an effort to revitalise her administration.
Allies dismissed suggestions Mrs May would be gone by Christmas and Mr Johnson used a newspaper article to appeal for party unity – but acknowledged there had been a moment while MPs “sniffed the air” before rallying round the embattled PM.
Former prime minister Sir John Major hit out at the “self-absorbed” and “disloyal” behaviour of some Tories who are “driven by their own personal agenda” – comments viewed as a slapdown to Mr Johnson – while Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said being a politician should “never be about private ambition”.
Ruth: PM is the best person to lead the UK Government forward #marr— ScotConservatives (@ScotTories) October 8, 2017
Ms Davidson told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show the Foreign Secretary had backed the Prime Minister’s Florence speech on Brexit and Mrs May should “hold him to that”.
“He is a big intellect, a big figure in the party and if the Prime Minister believes he is the right person to be Foreign Secretary, then she has my full support,” she said.
Mrs May has repeatedly faced questions about whether Mr Johnson – a potential leadership rival – is “unsackable” due to her weakened position after the gamble of a general election backfired, depriving her of a Commons majority.
Asked what she might do with the Foreign Secretary, Mrs May told the Sunday Times: “It has never been my style to hide from a challenge and I’m not going to start now.
“I’m the PM and part of my job is to make sure I always have the best people in my Cabinet, to make the most of the wealth of talent available to me in the party.”
Mrs May’s ill-starred conference speech was interrupted by a prankster who handed her a fake P45 while a persistent cough left her struggling to be heard and a backdrop began to lose letters as she made her crucial address.
The Prime Minister admitted the speech was an “uncomfortable” time but never considered abandoning the address as “I am not someone who gives up”.
Mr Johnson used a Sunday Telegraph column to question whether the Tory party would allow itself to be forced into “an election that no-one wants”, adding: “What do you think you are doing you nutters?”
Sir John used a Mail on Sunday article to urge the Tories to “wake up and smell the coffee”, telling Mrs May that radical action on her social justice agenda was needed and calling on the party to unite or risk the “neo-Marxist” Jeremy Corbyn taking power.
Writing in the Sunday Express, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the PM’s misfortune during the speech had been “seized on by a handful of malcontents”.