Reports say an emotional showdown with senior Tory MPs left Uk PM Theresa May close to tears, as her Brexit plans have little hope of passing, claims the Mirror, citing Cabinet ministers and the Tory whip’s office.
One No. 10 source, reports the paper, warned that May was still at least 80 MPs short of passing the legislation, adding: “If the Bill falls, everyone knows what comes after that. It’s the last act of this government.”
This defeat would trigger May’s resignation and launch a leadership contest before the summer break.
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has thrown his hat in the ring, joining the growing list of Conservatives who say they will stand for a leader once UK PM Theresa May announces her exit date, according to media reports.
When asked at a business event in Manchester if he would be a candidate, Johnson rushed to announce that "of course" he would put himself forward to be the next Conservative Party leader, once the contest begins.
Johnson, a gaffe-generating politician who has had many a facepalm-inducing moment during his tenure as foreign secretary, said: “I’m going to go for it, of course I’m going to go for it.”
When Johnson was appointed foreign secretary, some asked if Theresa May was trolling the world, while others dubbed it a political masterstroke. However, late last year Boris Johnson quit as foreign secretary, claiming in his resignation letter that the UK was headed “for the status of a colony” if Theresa May’s soft Brexit plans were adopted.
Several Tories have said they will quit the party if Johnson becomes PM, writes the Mirror.
Despite surviving a no-confidence vote last December, the British Prime Minister has been forced by senior Tory MPs to offer clarity regarding her exit date amid the Brexit deadlock and Conservatives' failings in recent local elections in the UK.
Speaking in the wake of the UK PM's showdown with her fellow Tory MPs, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, said he will meet May to agree on the details of her leaving Downing Street and discuss her future following the first debate and vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week beginning 3 June.
The Tory backbench chief said: “We have agreed to meet to decide the timetable for the election of a new leader of the party as soon as the second reading has occurred and that will take place regardless of what the vote is on the second reading, whether it passes or whether it fails.”
Media reports have been saying May’s looming departure is reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s choice to step down in 1990, similarly urged by the chairman of the 1922 committee that it was high time.
More than a dozen MPs are expected to seek the job left vacant by May.
Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom and Rory Stewart have all announced their bids, with Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid also expected to compete.
According to UK media reports, Johnson is understood to be pressing Tory MPs with small majorities in marginal seats to offer him backing, as he believes he can rescue seats that might otherwise go to Labour or Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.
Reportedly there has been pressure for the contest to take place before summer, yet with such a wide field of contestants, it could take months, with a leader announced at a party conference this autumn.