Theresa May to rally new-look Cabinet after Brexit resignations leave Government in chaos
Theresa May will try to rally her new-look Cabinet today after her government was plunged into chaos by the resignation of two Brexit big beasts.
Boris Johnson and David Davis stormed out of the Government in protest at the Brexit blueprint put forward by the Prime Minister - with junior minister Steve Baker and parliamentary aides Chris Green and Conor Burns in tow.
Cabinet had agreed the plan - which includes signing up to EU rules on goods and collecting customs tariffs on behalf of the bloc - at a crunch Chequers meeting last Friday.
Mrs May will address her top team at their weekly meeting in Number 10 after she was forced to undertake a mini-reshuffle to replace the departures.
Among the changes, Jeremy Hunt was moved from the health to the foreign brief while Matt Hancock left the Culture Secretary job to replace Mr Hunt.
Dominic Raab was promoted from the junior ministerial ranks to become Brexit Secretary, while Jeremy Wright moved from attorney general to head up the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The switch for Mr Hunt means the four great offices of state are held by MPs who voted Remain at the EU referendum in 2016 - prompting accusations the PM will lead a “Remainer government”.
The Cabinet meeting comes after Mrs May faced down her critics in the Conservative party last night - warning them to get behind her or face a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
It is unclear how many MPs have filed letters of no confidence with Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 committee of backbench MPs, but the crucial 48 figure has not yet been met.
Speaking outside the meeting, Tory chairman Brandon Lewis said: "There was a really, really strong reception for the Prime Minister. We want to show people around the country that we are really united party behind the Prime Minister delivering a positive Brexit for the United Kingdom."
A spokesperson for Mrs May yesterday insisted she would fight any leadership challenge against her.
Former party leader William Hague called on warring Tories to adopt a “ruthless realism” or risk throwing away their time in government as well as Brexit itself.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, he said only those who want to stay in the customs union and single market, or even overturn the referendum result, would be “heartened” by the turmoil.
“Tory MPs with their pens hovering over letters demanding a vote of no confidence in Theresa May need to think about that,” he argued.
Meanwhile, Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson wrote in the Times that backing the PM on her Chequers deal “will show that we remain serious about the job of governing”.
She added: “It will show we understand that a leadership contest weakens the country at the most critical point in negotiations.
“And it will make clear that we are prepared to see off the dire prospect of Corbyn Britain.”
But Mr Corbyn said in the Commons: “This mess is all of the PM’s own making. Far from strong and stable, there are ministers overboard and the ship is listing - all at the worst possible time.”
And he fumed: “It is clear this government is not capable of securing a deal to protect the economy, jobs and living standards.
“It is clear this government cannot secure a good deal for Britain.”