PRIME Minister Theresa May has promised to fight a leadership contest with "everything she's got".

Speaking outside Number 10, Mrs May said that changing Conservative leader would "put our country's future at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it" and could lead to Brexit being delayed or prevented.

It comes after Tory MPs have requested a vote of confidence in Theresa May to trigger a contest, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady has announced.

It comes after Tory former Cabinet minister John Whittingdale submitted a no confidence letter.

He previously said he did not know if the 48-letter threshold had been reached.

"I don't know if the 48 are in, it's certainly being speculated that that is the case, if it is true then I would expect there to be some kind of announcement later today."

He said he hoped a vote of confidence would be arranged "as quickly as possible", adding that he believed there was a need for a "fresh start in the Brexit negotiations and I think that can only be achieved under a new leader".

Conservative former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson said he did not think his letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister reached the 48 threshold.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I saw Graham Brady last night to hand him my letter in person and it appears that my letter did not trigger us over the edge because I think he would have announced it by now."

Mr Paterson said he had "not found it at all easy" writing his letter, but said: "I just I'm afraid think she's no longer the right person to lead us through this difficult period."

He speculated there could be a new PM by mid-January, in the event of a leadership challenge.