Conservative MPs have called on colleagues to calm down and rally around Theresa May following a suggestion that the prime minister has just 10 days to save her leadership.
A number of politicians, including ministers, insisted that the British public was in no mood for another general election as they expressed anger about any attempts to destabilise the party. Some claimed that Brexit secretary, David Davis, was ready to step in should the prime minister step down and had even been “making calls” to assess his level of support.
But the suggestion was slapped down by a close friend of the cabinet minister. Andrew Mitchell told the Guardian: “It is simply untrue that he is doing anything other than focusing on his incredibly important brief and giving loyal support to the prime minister. Anyone suggesting otherwise is freelancing.”
Allies of the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who is another figure tipped as a possible leader, also denied that any plotting was taking place.
MPs concerned about the situation will be able to air their worries at a meeting of the party’s 1922 committee of backbenchers on Wednesday, where Damian Green – who is now effectively the deputy prime minister – is expected to speak.
It came as it was revealed that the Queen’s speech outlining May’s legislative agenda has been written despite talks continuing with the Democratic Unionist party, which the prime minister will need to secure a majority of votes.
One source said the DUP had agreed to back the document over a week ago, but that it would be heavily stripped back in comparison to what was likely to have been put forward had the prime minister won a large majority in the general election.
The slimmed-down document is likely to focus heavily on Brexit and counter-terrorism, with much less emphasis on domestic legislation that will be difficult to pass through a hung parliament.
Backbench MPs admitted that May was seriously damaged and could be removed in the longer term, but there was a clamour among MPs to help secure stability in the short term, as the Tories embark on Brexit talks.
One senior minister said the suggestion in media reports over the weekend that May’s time was running out “does not reflect the mood of the party”. “People want some stability,” they said.
A second minister insisted that people would react angrily to “anyone who starts prodding for a contest”, insisting that nobody wanted an election soon. “The party wants a period of getting on with the job and delivering,” they added.
Brexiters reacted to the suggestion that May could be removed if she weakens her determination to fully leave the EU, insisting that they were happy with the appointment of Steve Baker as a minister in the Department for exiting the European Union.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, an MP and officer of the European Research Group, which represents Tory MPs who want to get on with Brexit, praised May for “strength and resilience … under a barrage of security pressures alongside the challenge of getting this new government up and running and leading on the most important negotiations for our country for decades”.
She added: “I hope that all Conservative colleagues will consider that the country does not want another election but a calm and orderly government which delivers what it said it would with Brexit. The prime minister deserves our support and help to achieve that.”
However, despite MPs urging against any quick action against May, a number admitted they felt the Tory leader was badly weakened and would struggle straight away once pParliament resumes this week.
“She’s in deep deep trouble,” said one MP, who claimed that May would get the backing of Tories on the Queen’s speech, but could struggle beyond that.
They said that backbenchers could be minded to work with those in the Labour party, backing amendments to legislation, for example. Internally a power struggle is underway between those wanting a full and hard Brexit, and others who see the election result as an opportunity for a closer relationship with Brussels.
“Some people will feel it is better to keep her for two years but others will say that we need as a party to move on,” said one senior figure in the party.