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Duncan Smith: My mission to form the next government of this country

Statement by Iain Duncan Smith

"For the last few weeks the Conservative Party has been gripped by a fever. It is a fever that is demoralising our party's grassroots and appalling the public.

I believe it must be ended over the next 48 hours and in a manner wholly different from the way it began.

I am therefore inviting my parliamentary colleagues to show that the Conservative Party can settle difficult issues in a honourable, honest and open way.

That - together - we reject the cowardly plotting of recent weeks.

Our conference in Blackpool was undermined by reports that the required 25 letters were on the point of delivery.

Last week it was supposed to happen this weekend. Last Friday it was forecast to happen today.

Today it is being predicted for Wednesday.

So let us make Wednesday the final deadline.

Over the next 48 hours we have to make two decisions:

One about my leadership - and another about the kind of party we want to be. Some colleagues have been open and honest about their intentions - and I can respect them for that.

If any colleague considers me unfit to lead this party, I invite them to come and tell me why.

So, between now and Wednesday my door will be open to anyone to tell me in person.

And then, on Wednesday evening, I will address the meeting of the 1922 Committee. By that time, six weeks will have passed since this fever took hold. I believe - as the whole country believes - that there has been time enough for 25 MP's to make themselves known.

So if, by Wednesday night, the chairman of the 1922 Committee is in receipt of 25 names, I will seek to win a vote of confidence in my leadership.

Equally, if the 25 names are not forthcoming, I will expect my party to call a halt to this most damaging episode.

Of course, I cannot compel the plotters to quit the field.

But I am confident that my Parliamentary colleagues, our party members, and all fair-minded people, will insist that my detractors accept that their game is over.

I am looking forward to addressing the 1922 Committee on Wednesday. The Committee has been pivotal in our party's modern history - and I want Wednesday's meeting to be an historic event.

If, as I expect, no vote of confidence has been called, then there, together as a party, we can draw a line under this whole affair.

United behind my leadership and my mission to form the next government of this country.

A government that will provide every retired person with a decent pension; that will give choice to patients and parents regardless of their income; and deliver value for money for every taxpayer.

The first Conservative government of the 21st century."

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