Region's MPs rally round Tory leader

EAST Anglia's Tory MPs are standing loyally behind their leader Iain Duncan Smith as he fights for survival.The Conservatives have been in turmoil for nearly three weeks as un-named MPs have called for Mr Duncan Smith to either step aside or face a vote of confidence in his leadership.

EAST Anglia's Tory MPs are standing loyally behind their leader Iain Duncan Smith as he fights for survival.

The Conservatives have been in turmoil for nearly three weeks as un-named MPs have called for Mr Duncan Smith to either step aside or face a vote of confidence in his leadership.

Although it will take 25 MPs to ensure there is a ballot at Westminster, those said to oppose IDS remaining in office have yet to lodge papers with Sir Michael Spicer, the chairman of the 1922 Committee which would oversee any election.

Mr Duncan Smith was at Loughborough University in Leicestershire yesterdayto launch policies on student tuition fees and the system of drug testing in sport, but this was overshadowed by a barrage of questions over his leadership crisis.


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The meeting was chaired by John Whittingdale, Tory MP for Maldon and Chelmsford East and the Shadow Culture Secretary.

He said: "Iain is very robust – he was elected by the membership of the party and he is sustained by their support."

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"It is very frustrating that all the media wants to do is talk about the leadership – the simply truth is that 25 MPs have not come forward to trigger a contest and until they do, Iain remains leader promoting what we believe will be popular policies," Mr Whittingdale added.

Bernard Jenkin, MP for Essex North and IDS's campaign manager in the leadership election, said: "Two years ago, Iain promised to set out a policy agenda on which we could win a General Election. Our policy document launched at the Blackpool conference is exactly that.

"He was elected by the membership of the party and he deserves more of a chance than he has had to advance his polices and ideas."

Mr Jenkin, who is Shadow Defence Secretary, acknowledged that the parliamentary party had the ultimate responsibility to decide the leader's future "and Iain will respect that. But the idea that the fifth leadership election in 13 years will solve the Conservative Party's difficulties is just moonshine."

Richard Spring, the Tory memeber for West Suffolk, said the membership of the party had elected IDS and he had "no intention whatsoever" of joining any bid to either destabilise or remove the leader.

Tim Yeo (South Suffolk), the Shadow Trade Secretary, said a period of "calm reflection" was needed in the party.

"At the Shadow Cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening, his determination to carry on was met with warm approval."

Bury St Edmunds' Tory MP, David Ruffley, said the atmosphere at Westminster was "just plain silly and everyone should calm down."

A routine meeting of his constituency's executive council at the weekend had shown its support for IDS. "I don't see any evidence that the mood among my activists has changed since then," said Mr Ruffley.

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