'I'm not interested in Westminster politics': Rishi Sunak urges Tories to 'stick to the plan' amid plots to oust him

18 March 2024, 14:15 | Updated: 18 March 2024, 15:07

In response to the rumours, Rishi Sunak told LBC that he's not interested in reports of a plan to remove him as prime minister
In response to the rumours, Rishi Sunak told LBC that he's not interested in reports of a plan to remove him as prime minister. Picture: Alamy
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called on warring Tories to "stick to the plan" amid plots to oust him before the election.

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On a visit to Coventry, the beleaguered PM told LBC: "I'm not interested in Westminster politics, it doesn't matter.

"What matters is the future of our country and that's what I get up every single morning and work very hard to deliver."

There has been speculation in recent days about a potential challenge to Mr Sunak's leadership amid growing Tory concerns about the Conservative Party’s position in the opinion polls. 

The Tories remain around 20 points behind Labour in the polls despite a 'tax-cutting Budget' earlier this month.

Over the weekend there were reports that Penny Mordaunt could be installed as new Conservative leader before this year's election.

Earlier Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch urged those Conservative MPs working to oust Rishi Sunak from No 10 before the next election to stop being "obsessed with Westminster psychodrama".

She told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC: "I have said many times that people need to stop messing around and get behind the prime minister.

Kemi Badenoch responds to claims that Penny Mordaunt could be the new Conservative leader

Read more: Tories 'need to stop messing around and get behind the Prime Minister,' Business Secretary tells LBC

Read more: 'This is trivia': Kemi Badenoch hits out at continued furore over Tory donor 'racism' row

The PM used a seven-minute speech in the Midlands to insist the country is "turning the corner", before taking questions from business leaders and reiterating his desire to cut national insurance.

Insisting this is the year Britain "bounces back", Mr Sunak unveiled plans to boost apprenticeships, including £60million funding and cuts to red tape to make it easier for small firms to take on trainees.

He also made the case that the Government's economic plan is starting to bear fruit – and urged both the public and his colleagues to stick with it.

He pointed out that inflation has fallen sharply – with new figures on Wednesday set to show a further slowing in price rises – and that real wages are rising, with government action set to give the average worker £900 in tax cuts and boost the state pension by £900 next month.

Rishi Sunak has pledged that 2024 "will be the year Britain bounces back."
Rishi Sunak has pledged that 2024 "will be the year Britain bounces back.". Picture: Alamy

Read more: ‘Rishi Sunak will lead us into the next election’: Minister dismisses ‘plot’ to crown Penny Mordaunt as party leader

Earlier Ms Badenoch tried to rally support for Mr Sunak, telling LBC: "I think at this particular time, it is really important that we remember that there are thousands of councillors all around the country who are going to be standing for election in May. We need people to focus on what they have been doing to help their local communities and not be obsessed with Westminster psychodrama.

"So it is actually important that we help demonstrate, especially for those Conservative councillors who I want to see re-elected, what the Government has been doing.

"I'm here in Coventry in the West Midlands, look at what is happening with auto, they have had so much investment under (Conservative West Midlands mayor) Andy Street

"That is what I want people to know about rather than who said what in the tea room in Parliament. It is just Westminster bubble gossip, it is not important," she added.

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