UK media reported late on Saturday that Prime Minister Theresa May was facing a Cabinet revolt and may have to resign immediately.
Here is a Cabinet Revolt Synopsis as viewed from outside the UK.
- The Sunday Times, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail reported on the potential coup, citing Conservative MPs. All said an interim leader would be appointed to oversee the last weeks of Brexit negotiation.
- The Daily Mail tabloid said Environment Secretary Michael Gove would likely take temporary leadership before a full contest in the summer.
- The Times political editor Tim Shipman said, "Cabinet ministers have turned on May in a spectacular fashion," and are pressuring her to leave, though she has still not made a firm decision to do so. He added that May's husband was one of the few urging her to try and stay on as prime minister.
- Pro-Brexit Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan told The Telegraph that the way May "allowed herself to be treated in Brussels made a mockery of taking back control."
- Buzzfeed News said government whip Paul Maynard told May her strategy was both failing and destroying their party.
Is this the real deal? It seems likely, but so did many of these.
There's at least a half dozen more revolts over the past to years. And I also recall numerous proclamations that May would not last until Christmas.
May's cabinet is in a constant state of revolt.
I question at least one tabloid source of the latest ultimatum. And these kinds of reports take on a life of there own.
The Financial Times has no information about this on this, at least that it considers reliable enough to print.
That said, it's very possible. However, there is no way to force May to resign.
If May were to resign at a specified date, the Tories would have have a bit of time to find their next leader.
'It's s*** or bust now' - How Tories can get rid of Theresa May next week
Theresa May has survived crisis after crisis and clings to office like a limpet. This time, though, it is difficult to see any scenario in which she survives as prime minister. When you reportedly lose the confidence of your chief whip, and your de facto coalition partners, the DUP, the game is well and truly up.
The best and cleanest scenario would be for Theresa May to declare in the next two days that if MPs vote her deal through, she will immediately announce her resignation and stay on until May 22nd, to allow two months for her party to elect a new leader. She could then leave with dignity and with the knowledge that her party is just about intact. But if not, let’s look at how Theresa May might be “persuaded” to go.
That's neither the best nor the cleanest way. The best and cleanest way would be for May to resign as soon as Tories could agree on a person to replace her.
That is what David Cameron did.
The Persons in Grey Suits
The mythical ‘men in grey suits’ could decide to pay the Prime Minister a visit as early as this week in order to explain how she’s lost the support of the parliamentary party and the party membership. If she received a deputation from the Chief whip Julian Smith, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, Brandon Lewis, the party chairman, de facto Deputy Prime Minister David Lidington and the leader of the Lords Natalie Evans, the game would be well and truly up. However, Brandon Lewis and Natalie Evans are two of Mrs May’s strongest supporters, and David Lidington may refuse to be part of any such group, given he would likely have to step into the prime ministerial shoes, albeit temporarily.
If the Men in Grey Suits option or a cabinet revolt fail to persuade the Prime Minister her time is up then the chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady could press his own equivalent of the ‘red button’. Although a formal confidence vote in May’s leadership cannot in theory be held before December, he could decide to hold an indicative, non-binding vote of Tory backbenchers. Last time 37% of the parliamentary party voted against her. Few would doubt that number would now increase to more than 50%. The vote may be indicative but in the words of the famous leaflet which went to 9 million homes, Sir Graham would have to tell his flock: “I will implement what you decide”.
The Tories blew it with a foolish leadership vote in December which May survived. May survived easily.
She would not survive today. Alas, the Tories can initiate a leadership challenge only once every 12 months.
Vote of No Confidence
Parliament as a whole can start a Motion of No Confidence.
If May lost, she would either have to resign or call elections. The problem for Tories is the latter.
No one knows what would happen in an election. If she resigned, Tories would have to find someone who could get a majority within 14 days or there would be elections.
May's Time is Up
One way or another May's time is up. The questions are when and how.
As I stated, the cleanest break would be for May to resign as soon as a new leader could gain a majority, but no later than May 22.
Addendum: Official Denial
I just found this denial: Ministers Deny Plot.
Michael Gove and David Lidington deny claims of coup as PM meets with Johnson and Rees-Mogg.
Philip Hammond has admitted Theresa May’s Brexit deal may not be able to get through the Commons, as senior ministers moved to quell speculation the prime minister could be forced out within days in a cabinet revolt.
As two ministers who had been named as possible interim successors, Michael Gove and David Lidington, played down speculation about the prime minister’s future, Hammond said that talk of pushing May out was “frankly self-indulgent at this time”.
The threats at the meeting may have been real, played up, or made up. If the latter, we have seen it before. It's also possible the resignation demands on May took place, but Gove and Lidington prefer to deny the truth until it happens.
Regardless, May will not survive too much longer.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock