Theresa May set to face confidence vote as Tory rebels claim to have hit 48 letters target
Theresa May could face a challenge to her leadership within hours after Tory Brexiteers claimed they had collected enough letters for a confidence vote.
According to the BBC, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, has sought a meeting with the Prime Minister amid mounting speculation that the 48 letter threshold has been reached.
Under Tory party rules, that would trigger a formal no-confidence vote by Conservative MPs. If Mrs May won it, she could not be challenged again for at least a year. But if she lost, she would be forced to resign and a leadership contest would begin.
Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson became the latest Conservative MP to publically announce that he had submitted his own letter in which he claimed Mrs May had made a series of mistakes during the Brexit negotiations.
According to the Telegraph, Mr Paterson's letter said: "The conclusion is now inescapable that the Prime Minister is the blockage to the wide-ranging free trade agreement offered by Tusk which would be in the best interests of the country and command the support of Parliament.
"I, therefore, have no confidence in Theresa May as Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party and ask that you hold a vote of no confidence."
One senior Conservative MP told PoliticsHome he had spoken to a handful of colleagues who had submitted letters of no confidence since Mrs May was forced to delay the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal on Monday.
"She was acting in her own self-interest, not in the national interest," said the MP, who predicted that she would be "gone by Monday".
Mrs May, who travelled to Europe yesterday to plead with EU leaders to offer her some concessions on the Northern Ireland backstop, will chair what could turn out to be her last Cabinet meeting as Prime Minister in Downing Street this afternoon.
Number 10 are refusing to comment on the latest speculation about Mrs May's leadership.
But former Cabinet minister Damian Green, a close ally of the Prime Minister, hit out at her critics.
Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight, he said: "She is being undermined from within by people who are frankly more interested in who is going to be the next leader of the Conservative party then they are about the future of this country."