Tory MPs call on Theresa May to grow Brexit backbone or face leadership spill
Pro-brexit Tories are in open revolt, and others are warning the PM she needs to shape up or ship out. Unless she takes a firmer leadership approach, she could be toppled.
“She’s as vulnerable as she’s ever been,” one backbencher told the Guardian. “She’s got to make a decision.”
“It comes back to the fact that no one knows what the prime minister really thinks – everyone’s projecting their worst fears on to her,” a senior pro-Brexit Tory added.
Brexit supporters hitched their wagon to May after last year’s election, fearing that other candidates could throw out the PM’s previous promises to abandon the single market and the customs union.
Those same supporters have grown increasingly concerned in recent weeks, worried that the leader’s approach is weakening. Reports indicate that both sides are growing frustrated with May’s unwillingness to set out her Brexit plans in more detail.
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said that Britain risks remaining in the EU “in all but name,” and that May’s actions have only weakened Brexit.
“Since the prime minister set out a bold vision in her Lancaster House speech, the direction of travel seems to have gone in only one single direction: towards a dilution of Brexit,” Villiers said, according to the Telegraph. “If the government goes too much further down that path, there is a real danger that it will sign up to an agreement which could keep us in the EU in all but name, and which would therefore fail to respect the referendum result.”
Downing Street sources confirmed to the Guardian that rather than setting out a fresh vision of Brexit at a conference in Munich next month, May has decided to take a softer approach and will present a speech on security cooperation instead.
It is not just her own party that have grown frustrated by the PM's weak leadership. Members of the public have taken to the Twittersphere after news of a leadership coup began to spread.
It seems that May isn’t the only one being undermined by her own party. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is facing an onslaught of coordinated attempts to discredit him in the lead up to the first analysis that will detail Brexit’s impact on the economy. Cabinet members will get a glimpse of the government impact assessments this week. A cabinet sub-committee discussion is expected the following Wednesday.
Tory MPs have urged the PM to discipline the Chancellor after last week’s gaffe, when he said there should only be “modest changes” to Britain’s relationship with the EU post Brexit.
On Sunday, Conservative backbencher Nadine Dorries weighed in, blasting Hammond for his disloyalty.
“He needs to go. He’s not being loyal to the prime minister,” she said, the Sun reported.
Speaking on ITV, Conservative MP Jacob Rees Mogg also took a swipe at Hammond.
“On this issue he seems to be disagreeing with Government policy, the Conservative party’s manifesto and Mrs. May’s speeches,” he said.