A full-scale Cabinet coup against Prime Minister Theresa May is now underway, according to insiders, with one senior minister claiming she will be “gone in ten days”.
News that at least eleven members of the Cabinet plan on confronting the Tory leader on Monday and asking her to resign follows reports of a “Murder on the Orient Express” meeting with party whips, who told her there was no way her deal with the European Union, already rejected by MPs twice, could possibly succeed on a third attempt — unless it came with a promise that she would go after it was passed.
The Prime Minister was reportedly “taken aback” by the whips’ call for her to fall on her sword, but ultimately unmoved — however, with her Cabinet already fighting over who should replace her once she is deposed, the decision may soon be out of her hands.
Just reviewing the sunday papers. Not often they all agree. This week they do: absolute blood bath for May- and the cabinet, finally, is moving in on her.
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) March 23, 2019
Cabinet minister: “The end is nigh. She will be gone in 10 days.”
— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) March 23, 2019
Other than the prime minister, there are 21 cabinet ministers. 11 out of 21 is…. 52%. https://t.co/tkL3IgXRoI
— Matt Wells (@MatthewWells) March 23, 2019
The early frontrunner to succeed her as a “caretaker” prime minister of sorts was David Lidington, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster — and, controversially, David Cameron’s old Europe Minister.
As a staunch europhile, proposals to elevate Lidington to Downing Street have caused Cabinet Brexiteers to baulk, with Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, being touted as a possible replacement.
Gove was one the Vote Leave campaign’s leading men, behind only Boris Johnson — but found himself cast into the political wilderness after throwing his own hat into the leadership rather than getting behind the two-time Mayor of London.
He was brought back into the fold by Mrs May after a number of high-profile Brexiteer resignations, however, and has become a key ally, although rumours he would back keeping the United Kingdom in both the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market — the weakest possible form of Brexit, affording even less sovereignty than enjoyed by European Economic Area (EEA) states such as Norway — are already receiving pushback from senior Tory backbenchers, such as former Brexit minister Steve Baker.
I’m advised @michaelgove would also go for Customs Union plus single market with Labour votes
Problems with that: https://t.co/rWH3LFy0BX
— Steve Baker MP (@SteveBakerHW) March 23, 2019
I’ve criticized May incessantly. But if the Tory Cabinet think David Lidington the answer then clear it’s a coup to stop a meaningful Brexit. Still, at least the letters would go in quickly. Tho I suspect they’ll scheme a way to avoid that. https://t.co/bGkPeUqxsf
— Ryan Bourne (@MrRBourne) March 23, 2019
Lidington and Gove are thought to more desirable choices for a caretaker or interim leader because it is thought they will not try to become leaders for the long term once the Brexit impasse is clear — although there are suspicions Gove, in particular, would attempt to solidify his premiership once installed.
Other possible successors to Mrs May are Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and former long-time Health Secretary, who is a former Remainer in the David Cameron ould but in recent weeks has reportedly been attempting to sell himself as a leader who could deliver a “Managed No Deal”.
Another contender is Nicky Morgan, another Remainer who nevertheless joined the aforementioned Baker and other in backing the so-called “Malthouse Compromise” for a Managed No Deal of sorts during the recent parliamentary struggle over what to do following the defeat of May’s deal.
However, she has previously appeared to align herself with Nick Boles and other MPs pushing an ultra-soft Brexit, and is not currently a Government minister.
— Helena Lee (@BBCHelenaLee) March 23, 2019
— Helena Lee (@BBCHelenaLee) March 23, 2019
A senior Downing Street source tells the Mail on Sunday that “discussions about the Prime Minister’s future are ongoing” this evening. pic.twitter.com/J1NCju9ShP
— MoS_Politics (@MoS_Politics) March 23, 2019
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