'Theresa May could be ousted from No 10 within days after her Cabinet plotted to replace her with Michael Gove as a caretaker Prime Minister.
A senior Downing Street source told The Mail on Sunday last night that even Mrs May’s Chief Whip, Julian Smith, had advised her to set out her departure plans, with Environment Secretary Mr Gove emerging as the ‘consensus choice’ to succeed her.
Mr Gove is being championed by Cabinet Brexiteers who are furious about what they see as an attempted ‘coup’ by Remain-backing David Lidington, Mrs May’s de facto deputy.
A senior Government source said yesterday that there was now ‘complete unanimity’ in the Cabinet that Mrs May should step down as soon as possible.
In a number of astonishing, fast-moving developments, coming just days before a series of historic Commons votes:
No 10 warned Tory rebels that, if they didn’t back Mrs May’s deal, the Commons could revoke Article 50, effectively cancelling Brexit;
- Mrs May mounted a last-ditch effort to save the deal by pleading with Jacob Rees-Mogg to drop his opposition – as his European Research Group made plans to select their preferred leadership candidate;
- A tearful Tory whip accused Mrs May of ‘betraying Brexit’ and ‘destroying our party’;
- Boris Johnson demanded to the Prime Minister’s face that she rule out leading the party into an Election, while her aides wargamed what would happen if Mrs May went to the country if the Commons rejected her Brexit deal again;
- No 10 scheduled the crunch votes for Wednesday and Thursday, with MPs voting on Mrs May’s deal and alternative options such as membership of a customs union;
- Chancellor Philip Hammond refused demands by Cabinet colleagues to ‘wield the knife’ and tell the Prime Minister that she had to resign;
Tory MP Nigel Evans said that, if Mrs May agreed to resign, then the party’s Brexiteers would support her deal;
- Central London was brought to a standstill as anti-Brexit protesters staged a major march calling for another EU referendum.
The Cabinet’s move against Mrs May comes after a disastrous week in which she blamed MPs for the delay to Brexit in a live televised address, which left Mr Smith incandescent with rage. She was then humiliated by EU leaders at a summit which agreed that, if her deal is defeated again, then Parliament will have just two more weeks to find an alternative, or risk a no-deal Brexit on April 12.'
Read more: Cabinet coup: Theresa May is told she must go as ministers plot to install Michael Gove in No 10 to save Brexit