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Rishi Sunak urges Tory MPs to 'pull together' amid febrile disquiet over his premiership

Rishi Sunak was on Wednesday urging Tory MPs to “pull together” amid febrile rumblings among them over his premiership.

He issued the call for unity ahead of elections for councils and mayoralties, including in London, on May 2.

The Prime Minister addressed a meeting of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs on Wednesday afternoon, after a weekend of reports about possible plots to oust him.

Asked what his message would be to his MPs, the Prime Minister's press secretary said: "He will be talking about the local elections and I'm sure they will be talking about that we have got to pull together to make sure Labour don't do what they have done to Britain, what they have done to Birmingham.

"As the PM said, (there have been) eye-watering tax rises, bins uncollected, massive cuts to the arts in Birmingham - it is truly... worse than in the 1970s under Labour leadership there.

"So he will be talking about that."

Asked whether Mr Sunak was concerned that the Tories had not been pulling together, his spokeswoman replied: "He wants everyone going into these local elections taking about the Labour Party's poor record in Birmingham, Wales and London, and that will be the focus of the Conservatives as we go into these important local elections."

In the capital, Sadiq Khan on Monday launched his mayoral campaign, with the latest poll putting him 25 points ahead of his Tory rival Susan Hall.

Mr Sunak faced a triple hurdle as he sought to calm concerns among Tory MPs over his premiership.

The Lords were set to vote on a series of amendments to his flagship Rwanda Bill in a “ping-pong” battle with the Commons over the controversial legislation.

Home Secretary James Cleverly urged peers to “let this bill pass” after MPs overturned ten amendments made to it by the Upper Chamber.

But Labour, Liberal Democrat, crossbench and possibly even some Tory peers were due to back fresh changes to the legislation.

The proposed legislation seeks to compel judges to regard the east African country as safe in a bid to clear the way to send asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats on a one-way flight to Rwanda.

It was introduced after the Supreme Court, in a damning verdict, earlier declared the Government’s Rwanda plan as unlawful.

The second hurdle was his speech to the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs.

A small number of Conservatives are pushing the idea of replacing him as Prime Minister as their party trails Labour in the polls by a large margin, even though a general election is now looming, possibly in the autumn.

Many Tory MPs are against any possible move to oust the PM.

Before this meeting, Mr Sunak clashed with Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions after the Tories were rocked by the “racism” storm involving donor Frank Hester and his abhorent remarks about Diane Abbott MP.

Their exchanges focused on immigration, the economy, crime and leadership.