Furious Tory MPs last Friday threatened to oust Theresa May within six months after her disastrous election campaign.
The party was plunged into civil war after the Prime Minister lost her Commons majority, with MPs aghast at her campaign tactics that resulted in the Tories blowing a 20-point lead over Labour.
They demanded the resignation of Mrs May’s closest aides, and amid reports the PM had to be talked out of resigning.
Some ministers said she would be forced from office in months.
Speculation mounted about potential successors, with Boris Johnson and David Davis both strongly tipped, and rumours of a joint ticket involving Home Secretary Amber Rudd and former Justice Secretary Michael Gove.
In a defiant statement on the steps of No 10 on Friday, Mrs May vowed to “get to work” on delivering Brexit after visiting the Queen to inform her she would try to form a minority government with the support of the hard-line Democratic Unionist Party.
However, the tone of Mrs May’s statement only enraged Tory MPs further as she failed to mention the MPs who had lost their seats, or show any contrition for a result that plunges the country – and Brexit negotiations – into turmoil.
After critics said she was “in denial”, Mrs May later made a statement in which she apologised to Tory MPs who lost their seats and promised to “reflect” on the result.
A well-placed source said Brexit Secretary Mr Davis had to make an emergency dash to No 10 to “shore up” the Prime Minister after rumours circulated that she might quit.
Shortly afterwards, Downing Street put out a statement saying Mrs May would stay on and try to form a government.
Despite the turmoil rocking Mrs May’s premiership, only one Cabinet minister – Transport Secretary Chris Grayling – came out publicly to defend her.
The Prime Minister was forced to scrap plans for a front-bench reshuffle and keep Chancellor Philip Hammond in his post.
Mrs May faced a fierce backlash from MPs and ministers over the campaign which appeared to pluck disaster from the jaws of triumph.
Tory MP Heidi Allen said it was clear Mrs May could not stay on “indefinitely”.
Asked how long she might survive, she said: “I don’t see any more than six months.”
Brexit Minister David Jones said he supported Mrs May, but it was “impossible to say” if she would still be Prime Minister in six months’ time.
Pressed on how long she would stay PM, Mr Jones said: “That remains to be seen.”
One minister predicted Mrs May would have to go by the time of the annual Tory conference in October, adding: “There is no way she makes it past conference.”
Another said: “Unless she turns things round very quickly – which does not look likely right now – then she will be gone by the end of the year.”
Former minister Anna Soubry called for the PM to resign immediately, saying: “She needs to consider her position.”
Miss Soubry added: “It was a dreadful campaign, and that’s me being generous. We need to take stock and our new leader needs to take stock.”
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston said the election result would “inevitably have consequences for our negotiating position given the need for Parliamentary agreement to the final deal on Brexit”.
She added: “The precipitous fall from predicted ‘landslide’ to minority government was wholly avoidable – the result of hubris and a failure to listen.”
But in a speech in Downing Street, the Prime Minister insisted she planned to serve a full five-year term.
Mrs May insisted that, as the leader of the largest party in the new parliament, she had a duty to act in the “national interest” by staying on at a “critical time in our country”.
The PM called the election to strengthen her mandate to deliver Brexit, but ended up weakening it.
On Friday, she insisted she would press ahead with her Brexit plans, which include taking the UK out of the EU’s single market and ending free movement.
“That’s what people voted for last June,” she said.
“That’s what we will deliver. Let’s get to work.”
Allies of the PM insisted she had every right to stay on after securing 13.7 million votes – more than Tony Blair got in the New Labour landslide in 1997.
The Tories were only four seats and 287 votes away from a working majority of 322.
And 1,688 votes away from a proper majority of 326. – Daily Mail
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