Boris Johnson does not back a campaign to get him on the ballot paper in the Conservative Party leadership contest, ally Nadine Dorries has said.
The Culture Secretary, who is supporting Liz Truss’s bid, said the Prime Minister told her he wants an end to efforts which could keep him in No 10.
Thousands of Tory members are reported to have signed a petition calling for Mr Johnson’s name to be on the ballot alongside Ms Truss and Rishi Sunak.
But Ms Dorries, one of Mr Johnson’s most loyal ministers, said he had told her he wants the campaign to stop.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am bitterly disappointed that Boris Johnson was removed by a ruthless coup, as he was, led largely by Rishi Sunak.”
But asked about the petition, she said: “The Prime Minister actually spoke to me about this a few days ago and he said, just in passing, ‘if you hear anything about these people… tell them to stop, it’s not right’.
“They were his words, his exact words.”
The petition, championed by the Conservative Post website, is reported to have the signatures of more than 14,000 Tory members – although this figure has been disputed.
Former party treasurer Lord Cruddas said it had almost 15,000 supporters but “there are around 800 hacker false signatures” from non-members.
Ms Dorries also dismissed a Daily Mirror report that she might consider giving up her relatively safe seat, creating a vacancy so Mr Johnson does not have to defend his more marginal Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
Ms Dorries said the claim is “100% nuclear grade tosh”.
Mr Johnson had a majority of 7,210 in 2019, while Ms Dorries had a 24,664 vote cushion.