May’s days numbered after British cabinet mutiny over her Brexit plan

Theresa May is expected to set out when she will quit Number 10 after a cabinet revolt over her Brexit plan.

The British Prime Minister will meet the leader of backbench Conservatives, Graham Brady, today to discuss her future after her authority was left in tatters following the backlash against her “new Brexit deal”.

Senior ministers set out their concerns in “frank” talks with the beleaguered premier as Downing Street delayed publication of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) which sets out her Brexit plan in law.

The Prime Minister’s private meeting with Mr Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, could be the moment that Mrs May sets the date for her exit from Downing Street.

A 1922 Committee source told the Press Association they expected June 10 to be the day Mrs May chooses.

“Hopefully what will happen is she will stand down as Tory leader I think on or before June 10, and she will hopefully remain as caretaker Prime Minister until such time as a new Tory leader is elected,” they said.

“My feeling is that she will stay until June 10.”

The source said a new leader would ideally be in place by the end of the summer to get a Brexit deal through Parliament before October 31, the date currently set for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Mrs May’s leadership appears fatally damaged by the reaction to her latest Brexit deal, which offers MPs a vote on whether to hold a second referendum and a choice which could leave the UK in a temporary customs union with the EU – both measures which are unacceptable to Tory Eurosceptics.

The scale of Cabinet anger at the legislation – which led to Andrea Leadsom’s resignation on Wednesday night – was made clear by two of Mrs May’s most senior ministers.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt leaves the Cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street, London.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt leaves the Cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street, London.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is understood to have told the Prime Minister to ditch the WAB completely, saying it was clear it would not pass.

It was a “step too far” to ask Tory MPs to vote for it under those circumstances, he told the Prime Minister.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid set out his concerns about the prospect of another referendum (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Home Secretary Sajid Javid set out his concerns about the prospect of another referendum (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Mr Javid had a “frank discussion” with the Prime Minister about the plan, making it clear he does not believe the Government should be “paving the way” for a second referendum.

He was understood to be pleased with the delay to the publication of the WAB and neither minister is expected to follow Mrs Leadsom out of the Cabinet.

“The Prime Minister is listening to her colleagues about the Bill and will be having further discussions,” Mrs May’s spokesman said.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has concerns the offer of a vote on a referendum could be exploited by the SNP to bolster Nicola Sturgeon’s demands for a second independence vote.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt also said she had “given my advice to Number 10”.

The WAB had been due to be published on Friday but that has been delayed in a sign of the chaos at the top of the Government.

MPs were told that the Government now intends to publish the Bill in the week beginning June 3.

Downing Street had previously insisted the WAB would go before MPs for a vote that week, but it was not announced when the Government set out the forthcoming Commons agenda.

In a sign that Mrs May’s departure may come within weeks, rather than days, the Foreign Secretary said he expected her to still be Prime Minister when US President Donald Trump visits the UK on June 3.

In response to a question following a speech at the National Cyber Security Centre, he said: “Theresa May will be Prime Minister to welcome him and rightly so.”

Digital minister Margot James told the Press Association Mrs May was “being hounded out of office because Parliament will not make a decision and the parties just have an inability to compromise” over Brexit.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Mrs Leadsom said the Prime Minister’s future was “a matter for her”.

Mrs May appointed Mel Stride as Commons Leader following Mrs Leadsom’s departure.

- Press Association

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