Theresa May appeals to MPs for support as her future hangs in balance

Prime minister expected to signal at 1922 committee session that she will operate government in a less controlling route, after carrying out modest reshuffle

Theresa May will appeal to her MPs to hurl their weight behind her at a crunch meeting on Monday, as her future hangs in the balance after the Conservatives majority was wiped out in Thursdays general election.

The prime minister is expected to signal to her parliamentary colleagues that she will operate her government in a more collegiate, less controlling way, after sacrificing her two closest advisers, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy.

May carried out a modest reshuffle of her top team on Sunday as speculation continued to vortex about her future, including bringing back Michael Gove into government as environment secretary, replacing Andrea Leadsom. Gove crashed out of the cabinet last year after challenging May for the Conservative leadership, stymying Boris Johnsons opportunities in the process.

With many backbenchers blaming May for the partys poor performance at the polls, one senior Conservative said she would have to give a barnstorming performance at the session of the partys 1922 committee of MPs to hold on to her job.

George Osborne, who was sacked by May as chancellor last year, described her as a dead woman strolling, telling the BBCs Andrew Marr Show: It is just how long she is going to remain on demise row. I think we will know very shortly. We could easily get to the middle of next week and it all collapses for her.

George Osborne: Theresa May is a dead woman walking

Jeremy Corbyn has delayed any reshuffle of his own frontbench team as the party focuses on maximising pressure on the Tories and drafting potential amendments to the governments Queens speech, which is due to be delivered on 19 June.

If she survives, May is likely to have to ditch controversial manifesto policies in order to secure the backing of the House of Commons, and present a stripped-down programme for government, focusing on implementing Brexit and avoiding potential flashpoints.

Financial marketplaces will reopen on Monday morning amid continued uncertainty about whether May can command the loyalty of her own backbenchers, and pushing key legislation through the House of Commons.

As part of her reshuffle, Damian Green, a longstanding ally who campaigned for remain in last years referendum, will be first secretary of state effectively her deputy.

George Freeman, the MP for Mid Norfolk who chairs Mays Downing Street policy board, described Greens promotion as a good sign that the PMs new government will have a better balance between Brexit and tackling the domestic grievances behind it.

Cabinet reshuffle graphic

After the reshuffle, May said in a pooled television clip: I am pleased that people from across the party have agreed to serve in my cabinet and we are going to be get the hell out of there with the job.

I said during the election campaign if re-elected I would serve a full term … What I am doing now is actually getting on with the immediate task. I think thats whats important. I think thats what the public would expect, they want to see government providing that certainty and stability.

Johnson, the foreign secretary, flatly denied reports that he is manoeuvring to replace May. In leaked WhatsApp messages that emerged on Sunday, he described the “ministers ” as a woman of extraordinary qualities, and recommended my fellow members to get on with the job!

A spokesman for Johnson said he had expended the weekend in Oxfordshire, resting; while allies suggested that he would never challenge a sitting “ministers “. But few of Johnsons parliamentary colleagues doubt that he would make a bid for the leadership if it fell vacant.

One senior Conservative told: Boriss antics are seen as an ocean-going disgrace echoing criticism first used of him by senior MP Sir Nicholas Soames, who described him during last years referendum campaign as an ocean-going clot.

May has signalled that she will try to govern with the support of Northern Irelands Democratic Unionist party, which has 10 MPs at Westminster but that will still leave her with a wafer-thin majority, heavily reliant on the backing of all her MPs.

Arlene Foster, the DUPs leader, is expected to travel to London on Tuesday to discuss the details of any deal with the prime minister.

Many pro-Brexit MPs are supporting May, dreading an alternative leader might take a less robust approach when divorce talks with the other 27 EU states begin.

David Davis, the Brexit secretary, told: I have told anyone who asks that Theresa should stay, in the national interest. Anything else is just self-indulgent. The people elect us to do a job.

Crispin Blunt, a backbench MP who backed Brexit and chaired the foreign affairs committee in the last parliament, called for his party to workout huge discipline and delay thinking about the leadership until Brexit negotiations are over.

The electorate has dealt us a instead tricky hand, he told. What we have got to do is hold her in position. Were likely going to have to boost her confidence, which will have taken a knocking. We have got a job to do for the next two years.

Blunt added: I would have supposed the time to return to the leadership topic is after Brexit is delivered. We are in a very precarious position as a country, and as a party.

May is trying a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP a looser arranging than a formal alliance, which would lead to the Northern Irish party backing the Conservatives on major votes.

But some senior Tories have expressed concerns about any linkup with the socially conservative DUP, among them the Scottish leader, Ruth Davidson, who led the party to a strong performance north of the border.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon, also speaking to the BBC, stressed: We are not in government with the DUP or in alliance with the DUP. They are going to support us on economic and security issues. We do not agree and we do not have to agree with these social issues and I certainly dont.

Were not changing our views on these social issues. They are going to support us on these very big security issues that face this country.

MPs from the liberal wing of the party, who counted Osborne and David Cameron both now out of parliament as among their champions, are casting about for a plausible standard-bearer.

Davidson is a member of the Scottish parliament in Holyrood , not an MP. Home secretary Amber Rudd is considered too vulnerable because of her slim majority of merely 346 in her Hastings and Rye seat.

Ryan Shorthouse, director of the liberal Tory thinktank Bright Blue, which is backed by more than a hundred Conservative parliamentarians, said the “ministers ” should acknowledge that what he called her Ukip-lite strategy had failed and resign. Conservative now face a critical choice, he told. Either they let a far-left agenda ascend or they act quickly to change their leader and their approach to Brexit.

Unless May resigns, a challenge can only be launched against her if 48 Conservative MPs 15% of the total write to the chairman of the 1922 committee, Graham Brady, saying they have lost confidence in their leader.

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