Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Talks: Do our Conservative MPs still have faith in Theresa May?

They say that a week is a long time in politics. If this is indeed the case, the last couple of weeks must have felt like a lifetime for Prime Minister Theresa May who has had to battle humiliating pranksters, disintegrating signs, question marks from some in her own party over her leadership, and even a cough. But do her Conservative colleagues in Lincolnshire still have faith in her to get the job done and deliver for the UK?

The latest cycle of problems and challenges for the prime minister began at the Conservative Party conference held in Manchester.

After what had already been a difficult week with calls for her to demote Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who was seen by some as undermining her, Theresa May had the perfect opportunity to change the topic of conversation in Westminster and indeed Brussels with an inspiring speech revealing her plans for Brexit and improving ordinary people’s lives.

However, what followed was one of the more memorable party conference speeches in modern times, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

Having a cough is unpleasant at the best of times, but with an expectant party membership and nation’s media hanging on to your every word, it was something Theresa May could have done without.

At some points, concerns were raised that the PM would not even make it to the end of her speech.

Her mood was probably not helped by comedian Simon Brodkin, known better as Lee Nelson, handing her a P45 on stage, claiming that “Boris asked me to give you this”.

That she accepted it was immediately taken advantage of by her opponents, almost overshadowing the security issues this stunt had raised.

And then of course there was the sign falling apart behind her, with some commentators suggesting that this was emblematic of her time as prime minister, especially when taking into account the general election campaign, which saw the Conservatives lose the small majority they had worked so hard to win in 2015.

If that was not bad enough, the days that followed were hardly any better.

Despite calls for unity for a large proportion of the parliamentary party, some Conservative MPs felt compelled to publicly come out and call for a leadership election.

Former culture minister Ed Vaizey, who was sacked by Theresa May, said that he was finding it “increasingly difficult to see a way forward” and that “quite a few people will now be pretty firmly of the view that she should resign”.

Former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps then waded into the debate, claiming that around 30 MPs wanted the prime minister to fall on her sword.

This week has been little better for the PM, with her inability to guarantee the rights of EU citizens if there was no Brexit deal.

She also refused to say how she would vote if the Brexit referendum was held again.

Despite a difficult couple of weeks, two Lincolnshire MPs were quick to jump to her defence on social media.

Grantham and Stamford MP Nick Boles was particularly frank, claiming it would be “criminal folly” to question the party leadership in the middle of the Brexit negotiations.

This view was echoed was veteran Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh, who claimed a leadership election would be “a disaster for the nation”.

Matt Warman smiling at the Boston count. Photo: Sean Strange for Lincolnshire Reporter

Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman also publicly came out in support of the prime minister.

He told Lincolnshire Reporter: “The party had a successful conference, and those who seek to question the prime minister’s authority at the moment are risking playing havoc with ordinary working people’s lives.

“I have not met a single constituent who thinks that the prime minister is not doing her very best in what would be difficult circumstances for anybody.

“It is clear that on Brexit and the wider economy, Theresa May is also calmly producing remarkable results.

“There is little less attractive in politicians than self-interest, and I would certainly suggest that some of my colleagues in Parliament should get on with the day job.”

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Caroline Johnson. Photo: Sean Strange for Lincolnshire Reporter

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Caroline Johnson was, if anything, even more clearer in backing Theresa May.

She simply said: “The prime minister has my full support.”

Louth and Horncastle MP Victoria Atkins has also appeared on camera giving her backing to the PM.

She said on BBC Look North: “I don’t think that Grant Shapps is speaking for the vast majority of Conservative MPs.

“I haven’t spoken to a single Member of Parliament who agrees with him.”