Morrison urged to ‘publicly finish’ Turnbull
Liberal MPs are urging Scott Morrison to take the gloves off and "publicly finish off" Malcolm Turnbull as even former allies condemned the ex-PM's latest political interference.
News Corp Australia can reveal MPs from all sides of the party are privately lashing out at Mr Turnbull with some calling for the former leader to be publicly repudiated or even expelled from the party if he continues to disrupt the Coalition government.
They believe his ongoing interventions are further risking the Liberals' fortunes at both federal and state elections.
Mr Turnbull's attempt to thwart Prime Minister Morrison's plan to use special powers to endorse outspoken conservative NSW backbencher Craig Kelly backfired on Monday as his inflammatory statements made the ballot a choice between the current and former PM.
After The Daily Telegraph revealed on Monday that Mr Turnbull was privately urging moderates to defy Mr Morrison's wishes, Mr Turnbull publicly doubled down on his position, saying Mr Kelly's preselection should not be saved in the interests of party democracy.
The remarks stunned MPs - even the ex-PM's one time supporters - who found Mr Turnbull's remarks "highly hypocritical" after he only months earlier accused other former prime ministers Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd of being "miserable ghosts" who continually disrupted politics.
A senior MP said: "This is all about Malcolm Turnbull exacting revenge and destroying the party. If he tries to humiliate the PM again, it's time to call in the ghostbusters.
"There's a growing consensus that if he humiliates Scott Morrison again, Scott needs to finish him off publicly."
There is a broad belief among MPs that Mr Turnbull's intervention was more about harming Mr Morrison than about leaving Mr Kelly to likely lose his preselection battle for his safe seat of Hughes.
The Daily Telegraph has seen a letter signed by Mr Turnbull and provided to the NSW state executive in May praising Mr Kelly as part of his preselection pack, saying he was "looking forward" to the backbencher being "re-elected as part of our strong Coalition team".
The letter praises the Hughes MP as "one of the government's most committed contributors on the floor of the parliament".