Ruth Davidson tells Tory plotters to ‘shut up’

Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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RUTH Davidson has called on Theresa May’s critics to “put up, shut up, and get off the stage” as senior Tories rallied around the embattled Prime Minister.

It comes after a former minister said as many as 30 MPs were prepared to demand an immediate leadership contest in order to oust Mrs May.

We have just had an election and people are fed up with this malarkey. Get behind the PM. Ordinary punters I have spoken to thought her speech was good and anyone can have a cold.

Ms Davidson joined Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom in an attempt to “circle the wagons” after the Prime Minister’s calamitous conference speech.

The Scottish Tory urged the party to “settle down” while Commons Leader Ms Leadsom told plot ringleader Grant Shapps to “shut up”.

The Foreign Secretary urged fellow Tories to “get behind the PM” and turn their fire on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms Davidson told a BBC podcast that she has “not got much time” for calls to remove Mrs May. Referring to the Prime Minister’s coughing fits on the podium at the party’s conference in Manchester this week, she added: “I really don’t think that having a bit of a cold... changes the fundamentals of whether Theresa May is the right person to lead the country.

• READ MORE: Analysis - Could Ruth Davidson become prime minister?

“I think there’s an awful lot of people in our party that need to settle down. I think if the plotters were serious, they would be led by someone a bit more serious.”

Ms Davidson added: “One of the irritants over the last couple of days, for me, particularly as a woman, is this idea that all of these men are supposed to be making decisions on Theresa May’s behalf.

“Well, have they actually met Theresa May? This is a woman with agency, with grit, with determination. I backed her in the leadership, I back her now and I will back her in the future.”

The Scottish Tory leader, who is popular among grassroots members across the UK and has been suggested as a possible successor to Mrs May, called on her party to “get its house in order”.

“Get together, knuckle down and make sure our first commitment, our last commitment and our only commitment is to the country we are incredibly lucky to serve,” Ms Davidson said.

• READ MORE: Theresa May says she has ‘full support’ of her Cabinet

Meanwhile, in a message on a Tory WhatsApp group, Mr Johnson said: “We have just had an election and people are fed up with this malarkey.

“Get behind the PM. Ordinary punters I have spoken to thought her speech was good and anyone can have a cold.”

He told Tories to “circle the wagons, turn the fire on Corbyn and talk about nothing except our great policies and what we can do for the country”.

Mr Johnson’s intervention came after he faced calls to be sacked for destabilising the party following his intervention on Brexit on the eve-of-conference and his controversial remarks about Libya at a fringe event.

Mr Shapps, who has claimed to have the backing of around 30 MPs - with some Cabinet members also privately offering support - said demands for a leadership election were growing.

Tory MP Michael Fabricant described Mr Shapps as “embittered” while colleague Vicky Ford dismissed the Welwyn Hatfield MP as “completely out of touch”, revealing “he’s not even in our WhatsApp group”.

Mr Shapps was reportedly later added to the group on the app, simply so colleagues could make clear their fury at his move.

Mrs Leadsom, who ran against Mrs May for the party leadership in 2016 only to pull out of the contest, said: “I don’t think that there’s anything like 30 others and I think what Grant Shapps is doing is incredibly unhelpful.

“Like a lot of my colleagues have said today, he should shut up.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions that Mrs May “has the absolute support of her entire Cabinet and of her party”.

Former cabinet minister John Redwood - who ran unsuccessfully against John Major after he challenged rebels to “put up or shut up” - gave his support to Mrs May.

The prominent Brexit-backer said: “I do not support Mr Shapps in his view that we need a Conservative leadership election.”

He also cast doubt about the level of support Mr Shapps claimed to have, pointing out they had “not spoken out or let their names be known”.

“Unusually reticent rebels? Or they don’t exist,” he said.