THERESA May was greeted with SNP demands for her resignation as she faced MPs just hours after a move was announced by her own party to oust her.

The Prime Minister was initially buoyed by Tory backbench cheers as she arrived in a raucous Commons chamber, with husband Philip showing his support by watching the session from the public gallery.

There was even laughter at PMQs when she jokily repeated the words she addresses to the Speaker each week: “Today, I will have meetings – possibly many meetings – with ministerial colleagues and others.”

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But within minutes the mood changed to anger.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn denounced her decision to abandon the Brexit vote on Tuesday as “totally and absolutely unacceptable”, while the SNP’s leader in Westminster Ian Blackford urged her to step down.

She faced a barrage of questions on whether she would call a General Election, undo the parliamentary deadlock over her Brexit deal by backing a second EU referendum and her views on Brexiteers threatening Ireland with food shortages to force it to back down over the backstop.

Blackford said May’s decision to pull the Brexit vote was “contemptuous of Parliament”. “Parliament voted for a meaningful vote. We should be having the vote and it should be happening next week. This government are a farce. The Tory party is in chaos, the Prime Minister is a disgrace through her actions. The reality is that people across Scotland and the UK are seeing this today. Prime Minister, take responsibility, do the right thing: resign,” he said.

May side-stepped the resignation matter, saying she was listening to the views of MPs and was pursuing issues further with the EU. In response to questions about a General Election, she said it would not be “in the national interest”.

MPs pressed May on a second EU referendum. The Green’s Caroline Lucas said: “The plotters behind her know that any replacement Prime Minister would face exactly the same party arithmetic and exactly the same deadlock on Brexit. This deadlock can be changed only by going back to the people. Today, The Times also said that is her only chance of saving her job and saving her deal. So can she tell the House: what exactly is she afraid of?” May said “it is the duty of Members of this House to deliver” on the result of the EU referendum in 2016.

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The PM was also pressed on tactics being used by Brexiteers after ex-Tory minister Priti Patel, pictured above, sparked outrage by suggesting possible food shortages in Ireland caused by a no-deal Brexit could be used as “leverage” to drop the backstop. Critics said the remarks were grossly insensitive given Ireland’s suffering during the Great Famine of 1845 to 1849. The disaster led to one million people starving to death and a further million forced to emigrate.

Labour’s Jim McMahon asked: “In 1997, the British Prime Minister issued an apology to the people of Ireland for Britain’s historic role in the Great Famine ... That apology sent out a powerful and important message. Will this Prime Minister condemn any notion and any suggestion that food shortages in Ireland will be used to strengthen Britain’s negotiating hand during the Brexit negotiations?”May, who was due to meet Irish Premier Leo Varadkar yesterday but pulled out of the meeting amid the leadership challenge, said she was happy to give that assurance.

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Tory grandee Kenneth Clarke hit out at his colleagues for calling a vote of no confidence. He said: “At a time of grave national crisis on an issue that we all agree is hugely important to future generations, can the Prime Minister think of anything more unhelpful, irrelevant and irresponsible than for the Conservative Party to embark on weeks of a Conservative leadership election?”

The move to oust May was sparked after the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, received the 48 letters of no confidence from the party’s MPs required to trigger a ballot on the leadership. At PMQs, none of May’s Brexit-backing critics took the opportunity to attack her.