Speaking to reporters in her Maidenhead constituency on Friday, May shrugged off the call from former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps that Britain needs a leadership contest, saying the country needs what she called her calm leadership.
“Now, what the country needs is calm leadership, and that’s what I’m providing, with the full support of my cabinet,” she said. “And next week I’m going to be updating MPs on my Florence speech, which has given real momentum to the Brexit talks.”
Shapps had told British media that at least 30 Tory Parliament members from groups both for-and-against Brexit supported a plan to oust May.
“I think she should call a leadership election,” Shapps told BBC Radio 5 live on Friday.
He had also suggested that a number of May’s ministers had privately shown support for the plan.
May’s authority was already diminished by her decision to call a snap election in June that lost her party its majority in parliament just days before the opening of Brexit talks with the European Union.
To trigger a formal leadership challenge, 48 Conservative lawmakers need to write to the chairman of the party’s so-called 1922 Committee.
Many Conservative activists fear a leadership contest would exacerbate the divide in the party over Europe and pave the way for an election that some Tories worry could be won by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.