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Turnbull v Dutton: Malcolm wins dramatic Liberal leadership showdown

Malcolm Turnbull has retained the Liberal leadership after starring down a challenge from chief dissenter Peter Dutton.

The Prime Minister vacated the leadership in a party room meeting, prompting a vote.

Neil Mitchell, relaying text messages from a source inside the party room, reported that Mr Dutton was the only other nominee.

The room voted 48-35, in favour of Mr Turnbull.

Neil Mitchell said that result proved nothing and possibly only added fuel to the fire that is burning the Liberal Party apart.

“There will probably now be further leadership rumblings because Dutton is only seven votes away from becoming Prime Minister,” he said.

“Turnbull may go to an early election, this year rather than next year, that’s probably the best way to shore up the Prime Ministership.

“History would say it’s not over, this period of destabilisation will continue.

“God I find this so frustrating, this carry-on.

“You need stable government, be it left or right, for the economy to thrive and we haven’t got it.”

And he had some advice for the Prime Minister.

“He’s being too pragmatic,” Neil Mitchell said.

“He needs to remember the Gough Whitlam ‘crash or crash through’ approach.

“He needs to find something to believe in and stick with it.”

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It’s believed Peter Dutton has stepped back to the backbench.

EARLIER: How it unfolded on the Neil Mitchell program

“Turnbull walked in with Julie Bishop by his side,” Macquarie Media political editori Michael Pachi told Neil Mitchell.

“We are an international joke”
-Neil Mitchell

Nine News Political Editor Chris Uhlmann told Neil Mitchell since the party room meeting, he’d spoken with Peter Dutton, who said he’d be stepping down from the front bench.

“He said the Prime Minister did offer him that position but that would be untenable so he’s resigned from Cabinet,” Chris said.

“It’s never over.

“The first attempt on the Prime Minister is not usually the last.

“I don’t think you’d rule out anything now.

“Where we go now is anyone’s guess and I think the country is the loser.”

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