THERESA MAY WAS ON THE BRINK OF BEING OUSTED FROM DOWNING STREET LAST NIGHT IN THE FACE OF AN ALL-OUT TORY MUTINY OVER HER DODGY DEAL AND PROMISES OF A SECOND REFERENDUM VOTE.
THE PRIME Minister flatly refused demands for a showdown over her Brexit plans, but with mounting pressure and with Andrea Leadsom now resigning from office, the decision looks set to no longer be hers to make. Now MPs believe she will have no choice other than to announce her resignation within days, potentially even as early as tomorrow morning.
Mrs May is due to meet Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt today and Tory backbench chief Sir Graham Brady tomorrow to be told her party wants her out. One Cabinet minister told the Daily Express: “We are into her final days. It’s all over.”
Last night, leading Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom quit the Cabinet, sparking fears of a mass exodus of angry ministers.
In a blistering resignation letter, the Commons Leader wrote: “I no longer believe our approach will deliver on the referendum result.”
Mrs Leadsom said a possible second referendum would be “dangerously divisive” and hit out at the Government’s “breakdown of collective responsibility.”
A string of senior Tories last night called for Mrs May to quit immediately.
Former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers said: “I am afraid we have reached the end of the road. We need fresh leadership in the Conservative Party.”
Cabinet members were appalled to learn that fourth and final bid to win approval for Mrs May’s Brussels deal would pave the way for a possible second referendum.
A series of Cabinet ministers – including Mr Hunt – requested meetings with the Prime Minister to demand she drop the plan.
But Downing Street officials rejected them, conceding that the Foreign Secretary could see Mrs May today.
While the Cabinet coup raged, backbenchers came up with a separate bid to try and force the Prime Minister out.
Executives on the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers discussed changing party rules to allow a second vote of no confidence in Mrs May’s leadership.
But a brief stay of execution was reached after Downing Street officials agreed to let their chairman, Sir Graham, meet Mrs May tomorrow.
Chief Whip Julian Smith spent just two minutes addressing the 1922 Committee meeting before walking out.
He was understood to have curtly told the backbench chiefs that Mrs May was not prepared to resign immediately.
One Tory MP described the outcome of the 1922 Committee meeting as “the can kicked down until Friday”.
Mrs May’s isolation was also laid bare when dozens of Tory backbenchers boycotted Prime Minister’s Questions, leaving swathes of empty benches for the weekly clash with Jeremy Corbyn.
European Research Group chair Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested it would be “more dignified and more elegant” if Mrs May followed the constitutional convention of quitting because she could not command a Commons majority.
As Mrs May defended her deal amid hostility from all sides, arch-Brexiteer Mr Rees-Mogg asked: “Is she going through the motions or does she really believe in it?”
Mrs May replied: “I don’t think I would have been standing here at the dispatch box and be in receipt of some of the comments that I’ve been in receipt of if I didn’t believe in what I was doing.”
She told MPs the Government would publish the EU Withdrawal Bill on Friday, triggering a series of votes next month that could pave the way to the UK leaving the EU by the end of July.
With it now seeming highly likely that Theresa the Appeaser will be booted from office – either by her colleagues or of her own accord – Politicalite will be reporting on the story as it develops.