Theresa May 'facing Cabinet plot' to replace her with David Lidington or Michael Gove

Posted On: 
24th March 2019

Theresa May is facing a major Cabinet plot to remove her from office and draft in David Lidington or Michael Gove as a replacement Prime Minister, it has been reported.

David Lidington, Theresa May and Michael Gove.
Credit: 
PA

The Sunday Times has spoken to 11 Cabinet ministers who have said they want Mrs May to stand down and make way for a successor within weeks.

One told the paper: "The end is nigh. She won’t be prime minister in 10 days’ time."

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Another said: "Her judgment has started to go haywire. You can’t be a member of the Cabinet who just puts your head in the sand."

According to The Sunday Times, at least six ministers - including Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke - want to install Mr Lidington, a former Europe minister and 2016 Remain campaigner, as a caretaker Prime Minister.

They believe he could either oversee Brexit or negotiate a long extension and then step aside after a full Tory leadership contest in the summer.

But The Mail on Sunday reports on a major backlash brewing at the prospect of Mr Lidington taking the reins - with some instead talking up Brexiteer Environment Secretary Michael Gove for the job.

One Cabinet Minister told the title: "The public will never forgive us if in a time of historical crisis our answer is David Lidington.

"This is where it is going to get very scary, whatever you think about it."

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is also said to object to the idea of Mr Lidington entering Number 10, amid fears the Cabinet Office minister could seek to pass a deal with Labour support by ditching Mrs May's objections to a permanent customs union with the EU.

Mr Lidington held talks with opposition parties this week on plans to test the kind of Brexit outcome MPs would be willing to get behind through a series of so-called 'indicative votes' - triggering a furious pushback from Brexiteers.

A source close to Mr Lidington told the Mail on Sunday that claims he had discussed a plan to succeed Mrs May were "nonsense".

They said: "David has not discussed anything of the sort. His focus is on getting the PM’s deal agreed".

BREXIT DELAY

The reports of a move against Mrs May come after she was forced to ask EU leaders for a delay to Brexit following two heavy defeats for the withdrawal agreement she spent two years negotiating with the bloc.

Mrs May previously saw off a Conservative leadership ballot in December, with Tory rules giving her a year of breathing space in which she cannot be ousted by the party, meaning she would have to actively choose to step down.

The Mail on Sunday said Downing Street was pinning its hopes for the deal on prominent Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, in the hope that winning him over will bring other critics round.