British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned her Conservative party MPs to stop “backbiting” or risk having Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn head the UK government.
The Conservative party chief has been plagued by infighting and plots to overthrow her since her gamble to call a snap election backfired last month and lost the Tories their overall majority in the House of Commons.
“No backbiting, no carping. The choice is me or Jeremy Corbyn and no one wants him,” May told lawmakers present at a Conservative party summer drinks reception on the House of Commons terrace on Monday.
She also reportedly told her party colleagues to go away over the summer for a “proper break” and “come back ready for serious business” as Parliament breaks for its summer recess in the UK this week.
May followed up the warning at a Cabinet meeting today, in an attempt to enforce discipline by ordering her top team to stop leaks and damaging briefings against UK Chancellor Philip Hammond.
Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “Cabinet must be able to hold discussions of government policy in private and the Prime Minister will be reminding her colleagues of that.
Over the weekend, Hammond had claimed that his Cabinet colleagues were briefing reporters against him because they were “not happy with the agenda that I have”.
Asked whether Cabinet members were seeking to undermine Hammond, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd insisted ministers were “united in wanting to make sure that we deliver a Brexit that does protect the economy”.
“Philip Hammond has talked about that and he is absolutely right to do so,” she said.
The latest rows at the top level of the UK Cabinet are being perceived as another example of May's weakness in the wake of the general election, which left the Conservatives dependant on the Democratic Unionist Party for support to get government bills passed in the Commons.
There have been reports that the Tories are planning to mount a leadership coup after the summer break, possibly after the annual Tory party conference in October.
A letter of no confidence is believed to be already in circulation but it has attracted only a small number of signatures so far.