Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has resigned from the government frontbench after his failed leadership challenge.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defeated Dutton 48-35 in a leadership ballot after he declared the leadership vacant on Tuesday morning.
Dutton will now move to the backbench following the contest, leaving the “wounded” prime minister to reshuffle his cabinet.
Mr Dutton’s camp reportedly believed it could have received the 43 votes needed to oust Mr Turnbull, but the prime minister’s backers says he still had majority partyroom support.
Fellow MPs from Mr Dutton’s home state of Queensland are also understood to have been encouraged to turn on Mr Turnbull.
Small Business Minister Craig Laundy warns that would go down like a lead balloon.
“If we are fighting amongst ourselves, guess what, when the voters go to the election, they’ll mark us down as they should,” Mr Laundy said.
“They want us to know that we should be concentrating on the things that are important to them.”
Just days earlier, Dutton pledged his support to the Prime Minister, saying his “position hasn’t changed”.
In relation to media stories today, just to make very clear, the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the Government. My position hasn’t changed from my comments last Thursday.
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) August 17, 2018