'Embittered' Shapps lacks backing in bid to oust May, say Tory MPs

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One of the ringleaders of the plot to oust Theresa May has been criticised by Conservative MPs, who said he lacks support in the party and is "embittered".

Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps was revealed overnight as one of those behind the bid to remove the Prime Minister from office but has been blasted by MPs.

Mr Shapps was a minister in David Cameron's government but an ally of the former premier said he has misjudged the situation.

Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: "Inundated with message of support 4 @theresa_may frm members. @grantshapps has misjudged the mood of the party&MPs".

Business Minister Margot James said Mr Shapps does not enjoy wide support in the party after he resigned as chairman following allegations of bullying in the Tories' youth wing.

She posted: "Since road trip turmoil under his party chairmanship Grant Shapps lacks a base in the party."

Veteran backbencher Michael Fabricant suggested Mr Shapps held a grudge because he is no longer a minister.

"I wouldn't buy a used car from one embittered colleague - let alone take advice from him about who should be PM," he said.

"Theresa May should remain."

Nadine Dorries, an ally of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has been the subject of speculation about a potential leadership bid amid his perceived disloyalty over Brexit in recent weeks, claimed Mr Shapps was part of a group of Remain-backing MPs seeking to reverse the decision to quit the EU.

She tweeted: "The plot is by remain MPs to topple the PM, destroy Boris and put a remain leader in place to delay and possibly destroy #Brexit".

Transport Minister Jesse Norman posted: "This is absolutely not what the country needs. The team needs to get behind the PM 100%."

Rising star James Cleverly, who has admitted he would like to be prime minister one day, backed Mrs May.

He tweeted: "I've always liked @grantshapps but he really is doing himself, the party, and (most importantly) the country no favours at all. Just stop".

Tory MP Vicky Ford dismissed Mr Shapps' support within the party, revealing "he's not even in our WhatsApp group".

"I know Grant well but I believe he is completely out of touch, he has not been talking to his colleagues, he's not even in our WhatsApp group," the Chelmsford MP told BBC Essex.

"We have all been talking to each other, chatting to each other, he's not even in the group. He's not in touch with what the vast majority of MPs are saying."