Boris Johnson has sent Conservative MPs a pleading email just hours before he faces a vote of no confidence.
In a three-page letter, the prime minister struck a defiant tone, blaming the media and asking MPs to back him on Monday night.
As well as writing to Tory MPs, HuffPost UK understands he will try to win them over in a face-to-face meeting in Parliament at 4pm this afternoon.
Tory MPs will vote this evening between 6pm and 8pm on whether they want Johnson to remain.
In a letter emailed to MPs, Johnson said: “Tonight we have the chance to end weeks media speculation and take this country forward immediately, as one united party.
“Tonight is the moment to draw a line under the issues our opponents want us to talk about and to focus instead on what really matters: the needs of the voters who sent us to Westminster.
“I’m asking you for your support tonight because I know how much we can achieve together. Together, we won the biggest mandate for the Conservative Party in 40 years.”
Johnson is on the verge of being ousted as Tory leader and prime minister, after the number of Conservative MPs demanding he resign reached the threshold for a vote of no confidence.
Chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady announced that 54 or more Tory MPs have requested a vote of confidence in the PM, triggering tonight’s leadership vote.
In his letter, the PM went on: “I do not believe our voters will lightly forgive us if - just when they need us most to be focusing on them - we appear once again to be focusing on Westminster politics. I’m afraid the only beneficiaries will be our opponents.
“I know that over recent months I’ve come under a great deal of fire, and I know that experience has been painful for the whole party. Some of that criticism has perhaps been fair, some less so.
“Where there have been valid points, I have listened and learned and made significant changes.”
The PM stressed they have a “golden chance” to put the whole saga behind them now.
“With your support, I believe that tonight we have a great prize within our grasp. We can put an end to the media’s favourite obsession. We can get on with the job without the noises off.”
While plenty of Westminster insiders predict Johnson will survive the vote, the fact it has been called is damaging for the prime minister.
Brady said in a statement: “The votes will be counted immediately afterwards. An announcement will be made at a time to be advised. Arrangements for the announcement will be released later today.”
In order to oust him, 180 MPs would have to vote against Johnson in the confidence vote.
However, the odds are in the PM’s favour with more than 140 MPs on the “payroll” alone including ministers and aides.
Cabinet ministers have been lining up to declare their support for the prime minister.
Foreign secretary Liz Truss said: “The prime minister has my 100 per cent backing in today’s vote and I strongly encourage colleagues to support him.
“He has delivered on covid recovery and supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. He has apologised for mistakes made. We must now focus on economic growth.”
Levelling up secretary Michael Gove added: “I’ll be voting for Boris this evening. The PM got the big decisions right on Brexit and Covid.
“We need to focus now on defending Ukraine, driving levelling-up and generating growth. We need to move past this moment and unite behind Boris to meet these challenges.”