Theresa May clings on - for now - while the knives are out for Boris Johnson

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Gives Keynote Address To Conservative Party Conference
Some MPs are likely to call for Boris to be shown the door (Source: Getty)

The Prime Minister looked set to cling onto power, at least in the short term, as she received lukewarm support from front and backbenchers in the face of a rebellion.

Two former Conservative ministers said yesterday that more MPs now think Theresa May should resign, while sources have told City A.M. that around 30 MPs will raise the issue at the influential 1922 committee next week.

Former minister for Culture, Communication and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey told the BBC that "quite a few people" thought the Prime Minister should go. Former chairman Grant Shapps later admitted he was part of a move to force her out of the role, which is said to have amassed the support of at least 30 other MPs

Read more: The odds of Theresa May leaving No 10 by the end of 2017 have been slashed

“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 said.

But a senior backbencher told City A.M. that a leadership challenge at this point could have "profound" implications for the party and country as a whole, suggesting May could limp on in power yet. The minimum threshold for forcing a challenge formally is 15 per cent of standing MPs, around 48 at current levels.

"It's not enough and quite frankly they should shut up about it," the MP said.

May's most loyal cabinet ministers Amber Rudd and Damian Green also sought to play down the growing sense that the clock was ticking on her time in power.

Read more: MPs call for Boris to be sacked after "dead bodies" comment

But the same people did not rally to Boris Johnson's defence and May is facing increasing pressure to sack thr foreign secretary. It is expected that the matter will be put forward at the next meeting of the influential 1922 committee.

"Boris clearly irritated both members and MPs by dominating the headlines," said the backbencher. "He's hardly an ingenue when it comes to the media. His speech on Tuesday was on message but I don't think that changed anything. He's done himself quite a lot of harm."

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