Boris Johnson urges 'so-called friends' to stop briefing against May

British PM signals possible demotion of foreign secretary: report

Amid growing demands that she sack Johnson to reassert her authority and introduce young party leaders to senior positions, May has faced questions on whether Johnson is "unsackable" due to her weakened position.

The party has been full of infighting following Cabinet feuding over Brexit negotiations and a tough conference speech from the Mrs May after she was hampered by a prankster and ill health.

The Sunday Times said it asked May about her plans for Johnson, who has professed loyalty but is accused by some of the prime minister's allies of undermining her by putting forward his own vision for Britain's exit from the European Union.

Asked what she might do with him, Mrs May told the Sunday Times: 'It has never been my style to hide from a challenge and I'm not going to start now'.

"I'm the PM, and part of my job is to make sure I always have the best people in my Cabinet, to make the most of the wealth of talent available to me in the party".

May faced fresh calls to quit following a chaotic speech at the conference that she nearly failed to finish after a prolonged coughing fit.

"I don't think he has been totally on board, I think he has been deliberately trying to make the Brexit negotiations hard, stall them, obfuscate the issues". It would take as long as three months for the Tories to pick a new leader, and there are just 18 months to go until Britain is set to tumble out of the bloc.

Earlier on Monday, the fifth round of Brexit talks began in Brussels.

When asked if she believes Brexit is reversible, she said: "If the United Kingdom wanted to reverse Brexit, and I don't see any signs that the United Kingdom does want to do that, whether or not that would be possible would probably not come down to the law".

In the messages the Foreign Secretary urged his fellow Tories to "get behind the PM" and turn their efforts on battling Jeremy Corbyn.

Ruth Davidson said there had been some "unfortunate shenanigans" in the party "but the pushback has been pretty strong" against those trying to force a leadership contest.

"Above all, the people of this country want us to get on and deliver Brexit - and we need Theresa to do it".

But Mr Johnson was backed by environment secretary and arch-Brexiteer Michael Gove who tweeted: "Boris is right".

One of Theresa May's Cabinet allies has insisted "not a very large number" of Tory MPs want to see the Prime Minister ousted.

The Observer newspaper said unnamed senior Conservative figures said while May had no long-term future they were pressing her to shake up her team, hoping new blood would re-energize the party as well as frustrate Johnson's ambitions.

Cumbria's Conservative councillors came together today and reiterated their support to Prime Minister Theresa May.

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