Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps fires back after Theresa May coup claims

PUBLISHED: 08:46 10 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:46 10 October 2017

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has lashed out at reports claiming he was the ringleader of a coup to oust Prime Minister Theresa May.

Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire. Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire.

Last week the former Conservative Party chairman came under fire after it emerged he had helped gather a list of up to 30 MPs who had lost confidence in the PM.

“I am appalled by the way that the story was briefed to the press, twisted to meet the needs of only the Whips and the media, and presented in simplistic villain versus hero fashion,” he said.

Mr Shapps added that following June’s disastrous general election for the Tories, Mrs May told colleagues she would serve as long as they wished – inevitably sparking discussion about the topic.

The list, he claimed, was only intended for the PM to consider in private, but after confirming its existence to Downing Street several weeks earlier, the information was leaked by the Tory Whips.

Mr Shapps said: “They in turn had decided to turn a list of concerned colleagues who would like to speak to the PM in private into a sensationalist story with headlines about a ‘plot’, placing me – as I happen to hold the list of colleagues – as its ‘ringleader’.

“These are all emotive and leading terms designed to generate anger amongst Conservative-leaning readers.”

The leak sparked criticism from several Tory MPs, many of whom claimed the revelation was poorly-timed amid crunch Brexit negotiations.

Broxbourne MP Charles Walker told the BBC: “Number 10 must be delighted that it’s Grant Shapps leading this alleged coup.

“Grant has many talents but one thing he doesn’t have is a following in the party, so I really think this is now just going to fizzle out.”

Labour’s Anawar Miah, who ran against the Welwyn Hatfield MP in June, also took a swipe, adding: “For Mr Shapps to be so disloyal it must mean that the Conservative Party in its present state offers him nothing.”

But Mr Shapps stressed he did not intend to destabalise the party, rather he wanted to provide honest and private feedback as initially requested by Mrs May.

He also claimed the Whips appeared to have created the story for “broader party management reasons, perhaps to dissuade other colleagues from daring to share their views with the Prime Minister”.

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