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Politics Tory coup rumours swirl as leading backbencher warns of ‘growing frustration’

RUMOURS of a nascent Tory revolt against Theresa May have hit fever pitch after multiple papers reported this week that the number of MPs needed for a leadership challenge, 48, has nearly been reached.

Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, has been forced to ask colleagues to not request a formal challenge.

Backbencher Mark Pritchard, who previously advocated sacking ministers disloyal to Ms May, warned of “growing frustration that Number 10 is not plugged into the views of backbenchers or even interested.”

He added: “The PM is being criticised for taking her very small group of allies for granted — a big mistake!”

A further Tory MP accused Ms May of having “no clue” and “alienating friends.”

While the central division is thought to be over Brexit, the perceived lack of domestic policy and repeated gaffes are reportedly cited as concerns by restive Tories.

The local elections due in May, when Labour are optimistic about taking councils from the Tories, are viewed as a critical moment.

Speculation about potential leaders abounds. Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy said: “There are two stories about Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson that he put in the news — one about an affair, another a scare story about Russia.

“It’s almost as if he wants to get embarrassment out of the way while reminding people of his leadership potential.”

Bookmakers have slashed the odds on a no-confidence vote in Ms May.

A Labour source said: “The Tories are weak, wobbly and totally out of ideas.”

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