Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has suggested that only "nutters" in the Tory party want to oust Theresa May and potentially trigger another election.
Mr Johnson backed Mrs May to "get on and deliver Brexit" as he insisted there was no public appetite for a change in the Tory leadership.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he compared the Tory party to a herd of elephants that had "sniffed the air" but turned away from plunging over a cliff edge after the attempted coup against Mrs May fizzled out.
The Prime Minister faced calls to sack Mr Johnson after he overshadowed the start of the Tory conference by setting out his personal Brexit red lines.
In his newspaper article, he backed Mrs May to secure a "great and successful Brexit".
He said: "The people of this country don't want a general election.
"For heaven's sake: in the last three years we have had two elections and a referendum. They certainly don't want to see a Tory leadership contest that would inevitably trigger further demands for an election."
Instead of the "bonkers and unaffordable" plans set out by Labour, "we need a strong Conservative government to keep the economy moving forward".
Mr Johnson added: "Above all, the people of this country want us to get on and deliver Brexit - and we need Theresa to do it.
"I have worked with her for years and I can tell you that once her mind is made up there is no-one more implacable and determined in pursuing what she believes is right for Britain."
Comparing the Tory party to elephants, he said: "Are we really going to be stampeded myopically over the edge of the gorge, with an election that no-one wants?
"Quo quo scelesti ruitis? as Horace put it at the beginning of a fresh bout of Rome's ghastly civil wars, and which roughly translates as: What do you think you are doing you nutters?
"From what I can see the Tory herd has refused to be so goaded. We have sniffed the air and turned sensibly away from the cliff."