British Prime Minister insists she has "full support" of Cabinet

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Home Secretary Amber Rudd added: "The Prime Minister will continue in her role to do an excellent job".

Conservative MPs were reportedly taking soundings on whether they had the numbers to unseat Theresa May as leader after her car-crash conference speech on Wednesday.

During the speech, notorious prankster Simon Brodkin, alias stand-up comedian Lee Nelson, delivered a mocked up P45 to the Prime Minister shouting as he was led from the hall that Boris Johnson had put him up to it.

May's speech was later repeatedly halted by coughing fits, for which finance minister Philip Hammond gave her a sweet.

The Sun, Britain's most-read print newspaper, has splashed with a picture of what remained of May's slogan by the end of her speech, with the headline "PM's nightmare as sign collapses".

The conference in the northern English city of Manchester was a sombre affair, light on policy and heavy on self-doubt. "It just couldn't get worse than this".

May must also contend with a resurgent opposition Labour Party which accuses the government of mismanaging the economy and worsening social divisions. "Now we need a bit of uplifting", she told AFP.

May's authority was already diminished by her decision to call a snap election in June that lost her party its majority in parliament just days before the opening of Brexit talks with the European Union.

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The increase followed a widening of the discount for US crude against Brent, making USA oil attractive on world markets. Mr Putin expressed hope that it would boost ties between the two countries.

"The reality is most people are looking at this and saying, "hold on a minute, let's not bury our heads in the hands".

Senior officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the plotters were not yet numerous enough to push May from office, despite growing dismay at her performance within Britain's governing Conservative party. "And I am sorry".

He said the party now needed to concentrate on being "effective and cool-headed" in government and that there would be no patience with any "distractions".

"What the country needs is calm leadership and that's what I'm providing with the full support of my cabinet", May said in a statement.

About half the letters were on the floor by the time the event ended.

"It's not miserable", she told Channel Four television on Tuesday.

May also announced an extra 2.65 billion USA dollars for affordable housing, taking the government's total affordable housing budget to nearly 12 billion dollars. "But it has never been my style to hide from a challenge, to shrink from a task, to retreat in the face of difficulty, to give up and turn away", she will say, according to excerpts of the speech.

"This is a Conservatism I believe in, a Conservatism of fairness and justice and opportunity for all, a Conservatism that keeps the British dream alive for a new generation", she said.