As Theresa May heads to the EU to beg for a delay to Brexit, she was warned by her cabinet that delaying Britain’s exit from the EU risked “the end of the Conservative Party”.
There were angry scenes in a cabinet meeting this morning as she refused to guarantee how long a delay she would be asking for.
EU leaders, fed up with the uncertainty of the UK position insist that any delay granted has to be for a good reason such as an election or another referendum, which would necessitate a long pause.
But after Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom and Chris Grayling are reported to have told Theresa May they would quit as ministers if she asks for a significant delay, with her position as leader of the party under threat, May intimated that she would be asking for a short delay only until June.
However other Tory MPs threaten rebellion too, insisting such a short delay is pointless and would stop any breakthrough being achieved.
“The Prime Minister appears to be pursuing a course of action that her own deputy last week described as reckless,” said Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary.
“Theresa May is desperate once again to impose a binary choice between her deal and no deal despite Parliament clearly ruling out both of those options last week.
“What the Government should be doing is showing real leadership, making good on their commitment to break the deadlock and secure an extension with a genuine purpose.”
Labour MP Angela Rayner said the Tories had “reached the end of the road,” were “falling apart” and “governing in the interests of the Tory Party not in the interests of the country.”
If EU leaders don’t grant her a short delay to Article 50 as they don’t believe it would achieve anything, May is left facing the economic havoc of taking the country out of the EU with no deal, or withdrawing Article 50 unilaterally to give Britain more time to work out a workable path.
Both of which options would result in a lasting split in the Tory Party.
The PM is still insisting that the EU withdrawal deal her government negotiated is the only one on the table, but Theresa May is set to lose support and face a split in the party whatever delay she returns from her EU talks with.
Who would replace Theresa May as Tory leader?
With various MPs being touted as a potential future leader, trouble making Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson is still favourite.
Tory ministers and MPs have threatened to quit the party if the Brexit ultra becomes leader in a take over with ERG fanatics such as Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Brexit cheerleaders Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab and another 20 Hard Brexiteers are set against voting with the Prime Minister if Theresa May was to put the EU withdrawal deal back to a House of Commons vote for a third time.
This has angered Conservative colleagues who see the flawed deal the least damaging way to deliver Brexit and avoid the economic upheaval of leaving the EU framework with no deals in place.
Johnson has also irritated Conservative colleagues as well as police for recently suggesting that money had been ‘spaffed up a wall’ for investigating child sex abuse.
Boris who resigned after being Foreign Minister throughout most of the Brexit negotiations could be up against David Davis, the Brexit Minister who resigned after the Brexit negotiations he negotiated didn’t end with a deal he could countenance.
Even Esther McVey is clearly using the opportunity to set her stall out as a possible candidates for the next leader.
Esther McVey who resigned as controversial Works and Pensions minister in protest at the EU withdrawal deal after a reported teary spat with the PM, has now switched to supporting the deal with Theresa May reportedly offering Brexit rebels a new Tory party leader soon.
McVey told Sky News’ Sophie Ridge “if there was enough people supporting” her she would stand for Tory leader, with Radio 4 confirming her bid this morning. She also told Radio 5 Live and Radio 4 that the PM “needs a dignified departure” – as she proceeded to hasten it.
McVey who had to apologise to MPs for misleading Parliament about Universal Credit failings also recently tweeted a false Brexit conspiracy that the UK would be forced to adopt the Euro by 2020. Many reacted with dismay to the news.
Also appearing to suggest possible leadership bids are fellow Brexiteers Dominic Raab, the former Brexit minister who resigned over the government’s withdrawal deal he negotiated, and disgraced former minister Priti Patel who resigned after undisclosed meetings with the Israeli PM and lobbyists.
Michael Gove and Tory Leader of the House and thorn in May’s side Andrea Leadsom are other Brexit candidates.
The party would be split between supporting one of the Brexiteers and former remain supporting MPs Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, even Liz Truss.