Politics

Tories wield the AXE: Theresa May no-confidence vote likely as Tory whips summoned

The Prime Minister is fighting for her political life after cabinet ministers and MPs resigned en masse over her proposed withdrawal agreement with the EU.

Leading Brexiteer Steve Baker has told the European Research Group (ERG) that more than 48 Tory MPs – enough to trigger a vote – have backed a no-confidence motion in the PM.

Tory whips are heading back to the capital, meaning a vote of no-confidence in her leadership looks “close if not already there”, sources have told Sky News.

The whips, who are responsible for ensuring MPs vote in line with the government, have reportedly been told to cancel all engagements today as Brexit turmoil engulfs Westminster.

Deputy political editor for Sky News Beth Rigby tweeted: “Have this confirmed by a source close to the whips office. They are heading back to SW1. Source tells me it must now be likely that confidence vote happening.”

But as tensions over her Brexit plan continue to simmer, Mrs May was thrown a lifeline by cabinet ministers Michael Gove, Penny Mordaunt, Chris Grayling and Andrea Leadsom, who have decided against quitting.

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BREXIT CHAOS: Tory whips have been summoned to London, source have told Sky news (Pic: DS)

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WHIPPED: Tory whips have reportedly been summoned to London (Pic: TWITTER)

During 48 hours of high drama in Westminster, Mrs May has taken a defiant stance since revealing her Brexit deal on the steps on Downing Street on Wednesday.

Appearing on LBC Radio this morning, she insisted that her proposed withdrawal agreement was the “best deal” for Britain after two years of fraught negotiations.

During the phone-in, she faced calls to “stand down in the national interest” and make way for a Brexiteer such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the European Research Group (ERG).

But Mrs May batter away any suggest that she will quit as PM, telling listeners she and her government have “hold our ground” in negotiations with the EU.

Her comments mirror her press conference last night, when she vowed to “see it through” despite a groundswell of calls for her to stand down.

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QUESTION TIME: Theresa May was quizzed about Brexit by LBC callers (Pic: LBC)

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Yet, despite her refusal to back down, the PM will face a no-confidence vote if 48 Tory MPs – 15% of the total – submit letters demanding her removal to Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee.

The 48 letters required to trigger a vote of no confidence have been submitted, the editor of BrexitCentral said on Friday, citing a single source who he said was always previously reliable.

In a day of high drama in Westminster, Rees-Mogg submitted a letter of no-confidence in Mrs May to Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs.

Speaking outside the House of Commons, he declined to run for leadership himself – but named Boris Johnson, David Davis, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey and Penny Mordaunt as candidates for PM.

He added that he believed the necessary 48 letters to trigger a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister would be submitted, but declined to put a timeframe on the process.

On LBC, Mrs May repeatedly refused on Friday to rule out allowing her senior ministers to get as so called free vote, which allows lawmakers to vote against the wishes of their party, on the draft Brexit deal.

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COUP: Jacob Rees-Mogg has launched a bid to overthrow the Prime Minister (Pic: PA)

“It must now be likely that confidence vote happening”

Beth Rigby

When asked whether her cabinet will get a free vote, May said: "We will be looking at the deal when it comes back. There is cabinet collective responsibility in this country. Government policy is government policy."

Secretary of state for international development Penny Mordaunt is said to be considering resigning if Mrs May doesnt allow a free vote on parliament on Brexit.

She has already suffered a wave of ministerial resignations, including Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and Work & Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, who quit over her divisive draft withdrawal agreement.

Downing Street has clarified that there will be no free vote on Brexit whatsoever, according to Tom Newton Dunn, political editor for the Sun.

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Tory MPs who have publicly revealed no-confidence letters include:

  • 1. Jacob Rees-Mogg
  • 2. Henry Smith
  • 3. Sheryll Murray
  • 4. Anne Marie-Morris
  • 5. Lee Rowley
  • 6. Steve Baker
  • 7. Simon Clarke
  • 8. James Duddridge
  • 9. Andrea Jenkyns
  • 10. Andrew Bridgen
  • 11. Philip Davies
  • 12. Peter Bone
  • 13. Nadine Dorries
  • 14. Martin Vickers
  • 15. Adam Holloway
  • 16. John Whittingdale
  • 17. Laurence Robertson
  • 18. Mark Francois
  • 19. Maria Caulfield
  • 20. Ben Bradley

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KNIVES DRAWN: Rees-Mogg was among several MPs who sent letters of no-confidence (Pic: TWITTER)

In a day of high drama in Westminster, Rees-Mogg submitted a letter of no-confidence in Mrs May to Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs.

Speaking outside the House of Commons, he declined to run for leadership himself – but named Boris Johnson, David Davis, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey and Penny Mordaunt as candidates for PM.

He added that he believed the necessary 48 letters to trigger a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister would be submitted, but declined to put a timeframe on the process.

Mrs May could be toppled if 158 of her 315 lawmakers vote against her.

Brady has not said how many letters have been submitted. It is not clear how he would announce any vote.

theresa may

ON THE ROPES: Theresa May is facing a no-confidence vote over her leadership (Pic: GETTY)

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has claimed Labour could secure a Commons majority for a "compromise" Brexit deal.

Mr McDonnell said a "unity platform" was emerging at Westminster to avoid the "catastrophic" impact of a no-deal break with the EU.

"I think we can secure a majority," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"People have looked over the edge of a no-deal Brexit and realised it could be catastrophic for our economy.

"Our European partners, I think, also have looked over the edge of a no-deal Brexit and seen what an impact it could have on their economies.

"So I think what is emerging within the House of Commons now is almost a unity platform to avoid a no-deal."

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