TORY MPs today roared in support behind bruised Boris Johnson as he riled them into uniting against Labour.
In his first big test since Monday’s wounding confidence vote, the PM silenced his rebels by turning his guns on their mutual enemy.
Trading blows on the NHS, Mr Johnson said Sir Keir Starmer “didn’t have a leg to stand on” and called his criticism “satirical”.
Conservative MPs also cheered as the PM raised the “disastrous” prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition.
The Conservative benches cheered as their embattled leader took his seats for the weekly Commons showdown.
But the Labour leader landed his own blows by jibing: “I couldn’t make out whether that noise was cheers or boos.”
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Mr Johnson signalled today he was taking Monday’s rebellion in his stride, despite two in five Tory MPs voting to chuck him.
Sucking up the result, he said: “In a long political career I have of course picked up political opponents all over the place.
“And that is because that is because this government has done some very big, very remarkable things.”
The 148-strong revolt has jolted him into dangling crowd-pleasing promises such as tax cuts and a housing spree.
Cabinet allies today blasted rebel plots to force Mr Johnson to fight another confidence vote.
Sajid Javid slammed “grossly unfair” scheming by mutineers to overhaul party rules that bans more than one challenge a year.
The Health Secretary said the PM had won fair and square and should be safe in his job for the next 12 months.
Ringleaders of Monday’s 148-strong rebellion have been agitating to shorten the grace period.
They are expected to pile pressure on the 1922 committee, which runs the contest, if the Tories are thumped in two byelections later this month.
But Mr Javid told the rebels to suck up their loss and put down the knives.
He told Times Radio: “I think most people would think if you sort of changed the rules, it would be grossly unfair, it would be the wrong thing to do, so I wouldn’t support that.
“You know, we have very clear, transparent rules and that’s important that they’re clear and transparent.”
The 1922 executive committee which has the power to tweak the rules has its weekly meeting today.
Even before the confidence vote they had discreetly begun taking soundings about changing the system.
The committee were on the brink of shortening the 12-month grace period if doomed Theresa May had refused to quit.
Yesterday arch-rebel Tobias Ellwood broke cover to call for the change to help oust Mr Johnson.
The senior Tory said: “I understand that’s what the 1922 Committee are looking at, deliberately for this reason.
“Because if we’re going to have that stay of execution, we are now going to recognise the democratic outcome and support the prime minister then let’s give the prime minister time to improve.”