Rishi Sunak rides out leadership challenge - but faces 'exhausted and broken' Tory party when parliament returns

Rishi Sunak's internal critics have abandoned their attempt to unseat him because they have run out of time and do not believe Penny Mordaunt would do what is necessary to save the party.

The Politics at Jack and Sam's podcast this week discusses how the PM is unlikely to face a challenge but will be confronted by an exhausted, sceptical and in parts broken Tory party when Parliament returns on Tuesday.

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He faces legislative challenges in the coming weeks, with revolts on the criminal justice bill and sentencing bill, that could be aggravated by the party's poor performance.

However, efforts by plotters - a loose band co-ordinating to bring down Sunak dominated by ex advisors rather than Tory MPs - have been abandoned.

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They are understood to believe the local elections show the Tories still on course for annihilation but they have run out of time, and the window for a challenge was back in December or January.

They had hoped a suitable candidate would emerge and the closest they came to believing someone was interested was with Penny Mordaunt, though she has denied plotting. In the end, rebels concluded she would not do what it takes. They also said the political cost of changing leader increased sharply in recent months.

Sunak is now hoping Britain coming out of recession this Friday will help turn his fortunes around.