Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith urges Theresa May to sack 'appalling' Cabinet plotters

Posted On: 
24th March 2019

Theresa May should sack Remain-supporting Cabinet ministers who want to oust her to make way for David Lidington or Michael Gove, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith has said.

Mr Duncan Smith was ousted as Tory leader in 2003.

The leading backbench Brexiteer attacked what he branded a "cabal" at the top of Government after reports almost a dozen top ministers want to remove the Prime Minister.

At least six ministers - including Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke - are said to want to install Mr Lidington, a former Europe minister and 2016 Remain campaigner, as a caretaker Prime Minister.

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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.

Mr Duncan Smith - who was himself ousted as Conservative leader in a brutal 2003 coup - said those briefing against the Prime Minister had shown "appalling" judgement.

"I'm not like some of these Cabinet ministers running around with collective responsibility, collecting their money and having all their privileges but turning around and briefing against the Prime Minister in the papers," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr.

"I think that's appalling. I think they should be censured, some of them should be sacked."

He added: "If there is to be a leadership change - that leadership change has to be done through the correct process with the membership out there deciding who will be there leader - not some ghastly five or six man and woman cabal that actually decides things internally."

Mr Duncan Smith's intervention comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond accused Cabinet colleagues of being "self-indulgent" and warned: "Changing Prime Minister wouldn’t help us."

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay meanwhile refused to slap down calls to sack those briefing against the Prime Minister.

He told the Andrew Marr show: "If they break collective responsibility then that is an issue for the Prime Minister to determine who is in her Cabinet."


Elsewhere in his Andrew Marr interview, Mr Duncan Smith, who has twice voted against Theresa May's Brexit deal, hinted that he could switch sides and get behind the agreement in a bid to stave off plans to let Parliament seize control of the process through a series of so-called "indicative votes".

He said: "I'm going to keep, and I would recommend my colleagues...keep, their options open on this. Because we don't know what's happening this week."