Theresa May is delusional to think she can stay on, say Tory MPs
But at least Boris Johnson and Peter Bone are behind the PM.
Many Tory MPs are privately furious about the idea of Theresa May leading them into the next election and potentially handing their seats on a plate to Jeremy Corbyn.
One MP has told the FT that the prime minister appears to be "harbouring delusions" and that she cannot win a general election.
"She is weakened, she’s not a winner. Frankly, she is a disaster," said the anonymous Tory.
A former minister also used the D word in a text to The Times’ Matt Chorley: "Let's just put it down to jetlag. Either that or she is completely delusional."
But the backlash has not been limited to off the record briefings to lobby hacks.
On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, former party chairman Grant Shapps likened May’s interview to Margaret Thatcher’s pledge to “go on and on” – three years before she left Number 10.
He said: "I think colleagues may well be surprised by this interview last night and I think it is too early to be talking about going on and on, as Margaret Thatcher once said. Let’s get some progress for the British people first; I think that’s the priority."
Former education secretary Nicky Morgan told the BBC’s HARDtalk programme: "I think it’s going to be difficult for Theresa May to lead us into the next general election ... We have got to think about how we renew our franchise."
And former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight: "The long term is the difficult one for Theresa May because I don’t think she’s got a long term."
The backlash suggests that May has not significantly strengthened her position among many Tories since the immediate aftermath of the general election, when former business minister Anna Soubry said the prime minister should "consider her position" and former chancellor George Osborne described her as a "dead woman walking".
But a handful of Tories did get behind the prime minister in public after she told reporters in Japan that she was "in this for the long term".
They included foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who told the BBC: "I've made it clear I'm giving my undivided backing to Theresa May.
"We need to get Brexit done. She's ideally placed to deliver a great outcome for our country and then deliver what we all want to see, which is this exciting agenda of global Britain. I think she gets it. She really wants to deliver it. I'm here to support her."
Meanwhile fellow Brexiteer Peter Bone declared: “If she delivers Brexit, and I think she will, then she will be a national hero. And then why not carry on?"