Despite her attempt to regain authority over the cabinet, Theresa May’s position is far from secure with push-back expected from Tory MPs who may attempt to oust her in the autumn, The Guardian reported.
With a letter of no confidence already in circulation, but only a few signatures so far, several MPs said on Monday that May was inherently safe until the summer as the colleagues are desperate to get parliamentary recess. But they also believed that plotting against her would continue after the summer break. They are determined to have her replaced by another figure by Christmas.
A week after the heavily leaked cabinet meeting which brought tensions out into the public, the PM will remind her ministers of their responsibilities and the need to “get on with delivering Brexit” when they meet on Tuesday.
Her position, though, is far from secure. One of the most important determinants of her future depends on whether Tory MPs could be persuaded there is a better candidate out there.
He said the Conservative MPs divided into categories ranging from: “she made her bed and should lie in it”; “she is our prisoner and is serving at the leisure of the party”; and others who want her gone by Christmas. Another senior figure claimed that while there was some desire for leadership contest, there was ‘unanimous’ resistance to anything that could lead to a general election.
May told backbench MPs at a summer event that their choice was her or Corbyn as prime minister as she urged them to stop the ‘backbiting’. One politician at the event said the mood among backbench MPs was a desire for Cabinet ministers to stop causing trouble.
No 10 is not planning a formal investigation into the leaks but May’s spokesperson said the prime minister would use Tuesday morning’s weekly cabinet meeting to insist they stop. “What I would say is of course cabinet must be able to hold discussions on government policy in private and the prime minister will be reminding her colleagues of that at the cabinet meeting tomorrow,” he said.
“She’ll just be reminding them of their responsibilities and making the point that ministers across government need to be focused on getting on with delivering for the British public.”
Brexit supporting MPs, meanwhile, who have formed the European Research Group, have been discussing their desire to ensure that nothing takes place that could destabilise Britain’s departure from the EU.
The frenzy of anonymous briefings and counter-briefing by allies of cabinet ministers over the weekend suggests they are already squaring up for a possible leadership contest and battle over the future of Brexit.
Hammond was the main target of leaks from other ministers about his supposed comments in cabinet, one saying he called public sector workers “overpaid”, the other claiming he said driving modern trains was so easy “even a woman can do it”.
On Monday, the Telegraph then cited an anonymous cabinet colleague as saying Hammond and the Treasury “want to frustrate Brexit” and that the chancellor viewed Brexiters as ‘pirates’.
May attempted to relaunch her leadership last week with a speech saying she wanted to carry out bold domestic policies agenda as well as Brexit, while constructively challenging the Labour party and opposition to come up with constructive ideas.
However, it does not appear to have won over some Tory MPs. One pro-Brexit MP said he had been approached to sign a letter of no confidence but had not done so yet only because of doubts about the possible successors, and the threat of a remainer winning the contest.
“If there was someone credible to take over I’d probably back them. But I’m not convinced that where we are now is tenable. There is not a winning situation at the moment,” he said, adding that Davis was probably the best option at the moment.
It comes at a time of intense speculation over May’s leadership and the future of Brexit, with Hammond, Johnson and Davis all potentially vying for supremacy.
Michael Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister, said May’s government was enfeebled and deeply divided. He guessed that the person responsible for the cabinet leak was a leading Brexiter because that was “where the self-interest lies”. But he argued that that person cannot be sacked because the prime minister has no authority.
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