Abbott stares down backbench revolt.
|Tony Abbott - Going, going, almost gone.|
ALL eyes will be on Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull this weekend as Tony Abbott stares down a move by disgruntled MPs to oust him as prime minister.
TWO weeks of unrest about the prime minister's leadership came to a head on Friday when West Australian MP Luke Simpkins formally sought a Liberal party room spill on Tuesday.
The move coincided with a new opinion poll showing an Abbott-led coalition trailing Labor by 10 points but with Mr Turnbull at the helm it holds an election-winning lead.
Ms Bishop, who is considered a possible deputy to Mr Turnbull should the spill motion succeed, said in a statement she was opposing it in the interest of solidarity and because she was Mr Abbott's deputy.
But she has given no undertakings to stand by the prime minister if the motion passes and the leadership goes to a vote.
Mr Abbott says he's spoken to Ms Bishop and she agreed to vote with him to oppose the motion, which would also open up her position as deputy.
The Nine Network reported Ms Bishop refused to comply with a request from Mr Abbott's office on Friday that she withdraw from a fundraising lunch she is due to attend with Mr Turnbull in his electorate in Sydney on Sunday.
Mr Turnbull has not declared his hand and remained silent on Friday.
A 7News-ReachTEL poll of 3502 people taken on Thursday night put support for an Abbott-led government at 45 per cent to Labor's 55 per cent.
But if Mr Turnbull was prime minister, 54 per cent would support the coalition to Labor's 46.
A change to Ms Bishop as leader would give the party a 51-49 lead.