David Lidington on Cabinet coup plot: I don't think I want to be PM

Posted On: 
24th March 2019

David Lidington has indicated he has “no wish” to take over from Theresa May amid reports he is being lined up to replace her in a Cabinet coup.

De-facto deputy Prime Minister David Lidington is being lined up to take over from the PM, according to reports
Credit: 
Sky News

The de-facto second in command in the Government said working closely with the Prime Minister had snuffed out “any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task”.

At least six ministers are said to want to install Mr Lidington, a former Europe minister and 2016 Remain campaigner, as a caretaker Prime Minister, according to the Sunday Times.

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They are said to be fed up with the Brexit strategy pursued by the Tory leader which has left Parliament deadlocked and the country split down the middle.

But talking to reporters outside his house after a febrile morning of speculation, Mr Lidington insisted: “I’m not attracted by plotting - I don’t have time for plotting.”

He added: “I don’t think I have any wish to take over. I think the Prime Minister is doing a fantastic job.

“One thing that working closely with the Prime Minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task. I have absolute admiration for the way she is going about it.”

The Mail on Sunday claimed there was 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.

Chancellor Philip Hammond this morning accused Cabinet colleagues of being “self-indulgent” and warned: “Changing Prime Minister wouldn’t help us.”

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith meanwhile said the briefing by the plotters was “appalling” and added: “I think they should be censured, some of them should be sacked.”

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay meanwhile refused to slap down the call to dump those openly plotting 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.”

CHEQUERS SHOWDOWN

Elsewhere, it has emerged that a group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs will meet the Prime Minister this afternoon at her Chequers residence.

Former Cabinet ministers Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and David Davis will be joined by senior backbenchers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Duncan Smith.

The group will also be joined by Damian Green - an ally of the Prime Minister who earlier this year backed the so-called Malthouse Compromise proposal for Brexit.

The PM will be joined by Mr Lidington, Mr Gove, Chief Whip Julian Smith and Mr Barclay in a showdown with the Brexiteers, according to the Telegraph.