Tony Abbott has survived a Liberal party room leadership spill, but his standing as prime minister has taken a battering.
Monday’s vote on a motion brought by West Australian Liberal MPs Luke Simpkins and Don Randall failed 61-39.
Leaving the 40-minute meeting after briefly addressing colleagues, the prime minister said he would make a statement shortly but would not be holding a media conference.
Former Howard government minister Peter Reith described it as a “very bad day for Tony”.
“He’s lost a lot of his position today,” he told Sky News.
“I have no doubt people will switch across now, which will make his position even worse.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young described the prime minister as “Tick Tock Tony”.
The lost spill motion meant Liberal MPs did not get to cast their vote on an alternative leader.
Former leader Malcolm Turnbull and deputy leader Julie Bishop were considered frontrunners if the spill motion had succeeded.
Chief government whip Philip Ruddock described the vote as “very clear” when he informed the waiting media of the result.
A Newspoll, published ahead of the party room meeting, showed Labor leading the coalition 57-43 per cent. It also showed a Liberal leadership change would improve the government’s stocks.
Only one in four voters were satisfied with Mr Abbott’s performance.
In 2012, Labor leader Julie Gillard won a party room vote 71-31 over Kevin Rudd, but lost the leadership a year later.
Mr Abbott walked into the Parliament House meeting room shortly before the 9am meeting.
Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop was standing next to him.
Behind him were ministerial colleagues including Mathias Cormann, Christopher Pyne, George Brandis, Josh Frydenberg and Joe Hockey.
Mr Turnbull arrived on his own.
Earlier in the morning, Mr Abbott declined to take questions when he arrived at the traditional church service that kicks off the federal parliamentary year.
Mr Abbott on Sunday described having a spill motion brought against him as a “very chastening experience”.
He urged his Liberal colleagues to avoid repeating the leadership woes of the previous Labor government.
“I am determined that my government … will learn from this experience, will be different and better this year than we were in every respect last year,” he said on Sunday. AAP