Tory MP, Adam Afriyie, In 'Plot' To Replace David Cameron As Prime Minister

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ADAM AFRIYIE
The rumours have provoked an angry backlash from Cameron’s supporters | pa

Speculation in three Sunday newspapers suggests Tory MP, Adam Afriyie, is a surprise contender to be the next party leader if David Cameron fails to deliver a majority at the 2015 general election.

MPs are reported to have been approached to endorse the credentials of the self-made IT millionaire - who became the party's first black MP in 2005.

A number of sources however have questioned the story with Tory MP, Margot James, dismissing the rumours as "ridiculous".

The alleged campaign was said to be a "well organised" by individuals concerned about the party's prospects of being returned to office amid poor opinion poll ratings and grim economic news.

But the Prime Minister's popular promise of an in/out referendum on Europe appeared to have squashed speculation that it could be part of a plot to oust him before the election.

Mark Field, one of those reported to have been pushing Afriyie as a potential leader, said: "I do not think it's any plot against the Prime Minister".


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That's some briefing operation - Adam Afriyie leadership bid in three Sunday papers...

When the Mail on Sunday, who refer to Windsor MP Afriyie as the "Tory Barack Obama", asked about the campaign, he said: "You are being very mischievous.

"I supported David Cameron to become leader. I love him and want him to be leader for the next 20 years."

He later told the newspaper in an email: "David Cameron is Prime Minister and I am concerned that the media is taking attention away from the promised referendum.


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The story of Adam Afriyie ‘coup’ is so ridiculous & insulting but it shows the media's desperation for a Tory division

"We are all working hard to achieve a Conservative majority so the British people get their say on the EU."

The newspaper said MPs approached to give their support had been told Afriyie had the backing of 40 MPs although others put the number at half that.

Field told the Mail on Sunday that he had had "a handful of conversations with people" but that there was "no mass campaign" in support of Afriyie.


Jonathan Haynes
About 9 out of 10 who replied (and you're an engaged group!) have not heard of Adam Afriyie, who MoS and ST are touting as a Tory challenger

"Discussing him as a long-term option has nothing to do with destabilising the Coalition or plotting against the current leadership. It would be impossible to do that given how the rules operate and counter-productive."

The Sunday Times quoted a "friend" of Afriyie, who is 47, as saying: "The team are well organised.

"They are very concerned about the long-term future of the party and believe Adam is the future. He has a fantastic back story and is very impressive."

Among factors in favour of the relatively-unknown MP - who was shadow science minister before the 2010 election - are said to be his upbringing in a poor part of south London and the fact that he has never claimed travel or second home expenses.

Blaming a "quiet news weekend" for the rash of stories about moves to line him up as the next leader, Mr Afriyie told Sky News colleagues "right now" were united behind Cameron.

"I work with many dozens of colleagues both on Conservative Party policy for 2015 - in Conservatives 2020 group - and many other groups within the party.

"Of course we talk about the long-term future of the party and the long-term success of the party because we think it is the best thing for the British people.

"But right now, right now, we are 100% behind David Cameron. He has our full support and we are working hard to secure his premiership for a very long time to come."

He laughed off references to him in the media as the "Tory Obama".

"This always happens. We are mixed heritage, we share the same birthday bizarrely, but our politics are very different and I am very much focused on UK politics, very much focused on the future of the British economy and supporting David Cameron," he said.

MP Nadine Dorries said she did not believe Mr Afriyie was running any kind of campaign to replace Mr Cameron - but added she felt he was one of four likely candidates to be the next Tory leader along with London Mayor Boris Johnson, Education Secretary Michael Gove and MP Jesse Norman.

She also confirmed she has not yet had the Conservative whip restored following her decision to take part in a reality TV show but added there have been "constructive discussions" with party bosses.

Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris, who was named as one of those behind the pro-Afriyie campaign, also issued a public statement of support for Mr Cameron.

"Just for the record: I want and expect David Cameron, who I admire hugely and support as Party Leader completely, to lead the Conservative Party into the next General Election and I also fully expect us to win that election," he wrote on his website.

"I also want him to be leading the UK's renegotiation with our European partners in the years to come as Prime Minister.
"I have not, am not and will not support any attempt to remove him as leader of the Conservative Party as I completely believe that he is the right man to lead our country through the difficult times we find ourselves in."