SOUTHAMPTON and Romsey MP Caroline Nokes has backed Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of a Tory leadership contest.

The Conservative politician says Mrs May has her "full support" and is the "best person" for the job of Prime Minister.

Ms Nokes in a statement on Twitter said: "The PM has my full support.

"Brexit was never going to be easy and we need to back her to deliver on that and our domestic programme.

"Being PM is a phenomenally difficult job and she is the best person for it."

It comes as fellow Southampton MP, Royston Smith, also gave the Prime Minister his backing.

He told the Echo: "The timing is not good.

"You ask her to go to EU and you have a confidence vote. Now is not the time.

"Let her get through this and at least past Christmas first.

"I am not entirely sure that the Prime Minister is the right Prime Minister for the distant future.

"If there was to be a vote of no confidence, I'm not sure who I would like to take that place.

"I would have to think about it carefully. There's a lot of younger people coming through from the 2010 and 2015 intake that may be the people of the future."

It comes as Mrs May 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.

She insisted she would stay on to "finish the job" she has set herself as Prime Minister.

Mrs May's statement came about an hour after it was confirmed the chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, had received the 48 letters of no confidence from Tory MPs required to trigger a ballot on the leadership.

The vote will take place between 6pm and 8pm on Wednesday, with the result announced soon afterwards.

Mrs May needs to secure the votes of 158 MPs - half the parliamentary party plus one - to remain as Conservative leader, though a vote of 100 or more against her will raise questions about whether she can continue.

If she wins, another challenge cannot be mounted against her position as Tory leader for a year.

Immediate statements of loyalty for the Prime Minister were issued by Cabinet ministers, including several who have been named as potential contenders to be her successor.