30 Tory MPs sign up in plot to force May out of No 10
MORE than 30 Tory MPs including four former Cabinet ministers have indicated they want Theresa May to resign, it emerged yesterday.
A senior MP is compiling a list of those willing to call for the Prime Minister to go.
One of those involved in the plot said Mrs May could face a delegation calling for her to quit as soon as next month if she gets the tone wrong at the forthcoming Tory conference.
‘These are people who think, in the interests of the party and the country, that she is going to have to go,’ he said.
‘We must not end up with what happened with John Major and Gordon Brown where the parties knew they had to get rid of their leaders but stuck with them. That’s what the whips want but it is not happening this time.
‘She has the conference to show what she can do. A lot of people think she can’t afford one more mistake.’
In another ominous development for Tory unity Boris Johnson was slapped down by David Davis yesterday as he set out a series of new ‘red lines’ on Brexit. The Foreign Secretary, who boasted last week he had prevented Theresa May going soft on Brexit, yesterday let it be known he has issued a new set of demands.
Allies of Mr Johnson said he had made it clear he will not accept any transition deal lasting longer than two years, putting him on a collision course with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clarke who believe the UK may need longer.
Mrs May is also said to believe that two years is ‘the minimum’ time needed to smooth the path to Brexit.
Mr Johnson is also calling for the UK to block the introduction of any new EU laws during the transition, a move also opposed by the Treasury.
And he wants the UK to be free to strike trade deals during the transition after 2019, something the EU is likely to veto.
To the dismay of Downing Street, allies of Mr Johnson yesterday claimed that he had succeeded in changing Mrs May’s Florence speech last week to veto a five-year transition and rule out accepting a Norway-style deal that would see the UK shackled to the single market forever.
A senior Tory source dismissed the claims, insisting Mrs May had never intended to go down either route.
And Mr Davis rubbished suggestions that Mr Johnson’s high-profile intervention last week had made any difference to Mrs May’s thinking.
He said there had not been ‘any change’ as a result of Mr Johnson’s 4,000-word Brexit manifesto and hints at resignation. ‘The policy in the Prime Minister’s speech had been coming for a long time,’ he said. ‘Some of them, transition, we were designing right back in the beginning of the year.
‘Some of it we’d been designing months ago. I don’t think there’s been any change of policy in the last few weeks.’
Downing Street fears Mr Johnson is ‘on manoeuvres’ and is positioning himself as a champion of Brexit in a bid to ingratiate himself with activists who will choose the next party leader.
Insiders fear he could quit within months and portray himself as a ‘Brexit martyr’.
Mrs May said last week that the transition out of the EU would be ‘about two years’.
Treasury mandarins have pushed for a transition deal lasting up to five years during which the UK would effectively remain within the single market. But they have been overruled by Mr Hammond.
An ally of Mr Johnson yesterday claimed the Foreign Secretary had ‘ massively’ reduced the length of the transition. But a friend of the Chancellor said Mr Hammond ‘has always been in favour of a two to three year transition’.
‘A Brexit martyr’