British PM fights back after plot to oust her

Comedian Lee Nelson, whose real name is Simon Brodkin, walked up to the stage and gave May the "pink slip", known in Britain by its reference code P45.

Her survival has so far been dependent on the absence of an obvious successor who could unite the split party around Brexit and fear of an election that many Conservatives think would let opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn into power.

"If ever the PM needed a metaphor for service and duty and resolution through adversity, that battling performance was it!"

Mr Shapps was a minister in David Cameron's government but an ally of the former premier said he has misjudged the situation.

May has struggled to reassert her authority since calling the snap election in June, only to lose the Conservatives' majority in the House of Commons.

Much of the anger among newer Tory MPs is understood to be directed towards Boris Johnson, who is perceived to have been overtly disloyal to Mrs May by setting out his Brexit red lines on the eve of the conference. May spoke of plans to "reignite home ownership" in United Kingdom and said the government plans to invest an additional £2bn in affordable housing, taking the total budget up to nearly £9bn. "But it has never been my style to hide from a challenge, to shrink from a task, to retreat in the face of difficulty, to give up and turn away", she will say, according to excerpts of the speech.

It was supposed to be one of the most important speeches of British Prime Minister Theresa May's political career, one that would quell speculation over her leadership position and unite the Conservative Party behind her. You can't just carry on when things aren't working. He said that after May's bungled election, her failure to unite the Cabinet and a poor party conference, "the writing is on the wall".

"This is a Conservatism I believe in, a Conservatism of fairness and justice and opportunity for all, a Conservatism that keeps the British dream alive for a new generation", she said.

He said: "It is a concern that someone could get so close to the Prime Minister and it was an unexpected distraction, but she dealt with it with grace".

The Prime Minister started her speech with her most fulsome apology for triggering the election, admitting that the campaign had been "too scripted, too presidential".

After her cough-packed prankster-stricken, set-crumbling Conservative conference keynote address, you might think there's little to link Theresa May and The West Wing's President Bartlet.

Ministers rallied round Mrs May following the speech.

  • Joey Payne