May at PMQs? Miliband stirs Tory leadership plots

Theresa May: Cheeky look on her face
Theresa May: Cheeky look on her face

By staff

Flurries of leadership speculation briefly surfaced in prime minister's questions this lunchtime, as Ed Miliband confronted the Commons with the prospect of Theresa May taking him on over the despatch boxes after the next general election.

"The home secretary shakes her head," Miliband noted during his exchanges with David Cameron over the bedroom tax. "I'm looking forward to facing her in opposition."

His jibe came amid growing talk in Westminster of a number of Cameron loyalists moving against the Conservative leader. May, the home secretary, is suspected of being on manoeuvres alongside defence secretary Philip Hammond and justice secretary Chris Grayling.

Cameron brushed off the suggestion with good humour in the Commons chamber but did not directly address the suggestion his leadership could be in danger.

Allies of May reportedly suspect her political enemies within the Tory party were responsible for the story appearing in the Mail on Sunday about her plans to withdraw Britain from the European court of human rights altogether, the Times reported. Downing Street suspects the story came from her directly.

Suggestions that May is using her weekly 'surgery' with MPs to build a support base have also begun raising alarm bells. Hammond's high-profile dissent on issues like gay marriage and his involvement in the 'national union of ministers' protesting against further spending cuts have also been noted.

Liberal Democrat backbencher Martin Horwood pointedly referenced the Westminster rumours in his question, in which he gloated over the election of Lib Dem Mike Thornton in last week's Eastleigh by-election.

"Even governing parties can win marginal by-elections if they stick by their leader through thick and thin," Horwood said.

Cameron replied: "I note very carefully... my honourable friend's question."


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