Window is closing on time for PM to get Tories' act together, backbencher says

The "window is closing" on the amount of time Theresa May has to pull the Conservatives together, a prominent backbencher has said.

Plymouth Moor View MP Johnny Mercer insisted that he did not want a change of Prime Minister, but added that politics was a "brutal game".

Asked about his outspoken comments at the weekend that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could become PM unless the Tories "get our shit together", Mr Mercer said: "How long has the Prime Minister got? I am of the view that any sort of change of leadership is not helpful at the moment and I don't support that.

"But, I do think the window is closing, because politics can be quite a brutal game.

"At the moment I do feel we are slightly struggling with a message and with a vision."

Prime Minister Theresa May has been warned that politics is a "brutal game" (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May has been warned that politics is a "brutal game" (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Speaking at a Resolution Foundation forum on the future of the Tory party, Mr Mercer added: "Yes, we are in danger of Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister."

Mrs May's former joint chief of staff Nick Timothy said a lack of "purpose and direction" at the moment was causing the Tories "difficulties".

He called for a change in fiscal policy, saying that the NHS needed more money.

Mr Timothy, who resigned from his Downing Street post in the wake of the Tories' disastrous general election showing, said: "It feels increasingly clear that the country is tired of austerity, and that public services are starting to feel the strain a little bit.

"It's clear that while the NHS needs reform it also needs more money."

He said the Tories needed to have an internal debate about their future purpose.

Mr Timothy said: "I think the party needs to set up processes that will enable it to debate its future purpose and policies because if that is left until 2020/21, that is going to feel too late in the electoral cycle."

Asked when he was last in direct contact with Mrs May, Mr Timothy said he had not "seen" the PM since he resigned.

Mrs May's official spokesman declined to tell reporters whether the PM had met or had phone or email contact with Mr Timothy since the general election.

Asked at a regular Westminster media briefing whether they had been in touch, the spokesman said only: "The Prime Minister speaks to lots of people.

"Nick left the Government seven or eight months ago now and doesn't speak for the Government."