Abbott’s senior ministers won’t rule out the possibility of a leadership spill

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Senior Coalition ministers won’t rule out the potential for a leadership challenge to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Education Minister and Leader of the House Christopher Pyne says that while there “could be a vote” to vacate Tony Abbott’s leadership next week, he won’t be supporting the motion.

Responding to a Sky News report that three Liberal ministers believe a leadership spill is imminent when the party room meets on Tuesday, Pyne told Channel Nine, “I can’t rule it out.”

“I know what I’m doing and I’m certainly not moving any kind of spill motion on Tuesday,” he said.

During a Politics in the Pub session on NSW’s Central Coast Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Tony Abbott had the full support of the party.

“There has been nobody that has been looking to appear to be his successor or to be his replacement,” Turnbull said.

However, when questioned what he thought would happen next Tuesday, Turnbull said: “We’ll see. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Fairfax Media reported that during the Government’s two-day cabinet strategy session, Turnbull and Abbott engaged in a closed-door meeting in the Prime Minister’s office.

Turnbull reportedly told the PM he was not not associated with any calls for a leadership spill but did question Abbott’s approach and game plan.

It’s understood Abbott repeated the key themes of his National Press Club speech, leaving Turnbull “underwhelmed”.

In an effort to clear up what he described as an “unfortunate misrepresentation” of his views, Pyne returned to Sky News again later this morning.

“I don’t believe there should be a spill motion,” Pyne said.

“I believe we have the right team…. we have to get on with the job at hand.”

Abbott’s leadership has been in doubt over the past few days with reports of several backbenchers calling for his dismissal.

Earlier this week, Abbott’s deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop assured the PM she would not challenge his role.

The federal leadership controversy follows a wipeout for the LNP in the Queensland election on Saturday and confusion over CLP leadership in the Northern Territory this week.

Despite the drama, Abbott was visible yesterday, brushing off speculation and pushing for metadata legislation to be passed through Parliament as “quickly as possible”.

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