David Davis lined up as interim prime minister

Theresa May facing cabinet and backbench revolt over Chequers Brexit deal, but could yet be saved by Labour

David Davis
(Image credit: Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

David Davis is being lined up as interim prime minister ahead of a crunch week in Westminster which could see Theresa May toppled over her Brexit plans.

Writing in The Sunday Times, the former Brexit secretary called for a cabinet uprising against the prime minister over Brexit, with a growing number of Tory MPs ready to oust her unless she changes course.

On Sunday evening, Politico reported that negotiators in Brussels have reached a deal on a Withdrawal Agreement that would secure the UK’s safe exit from the EU with a transition period to prevent economic shocks.

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Theresa May now needs to sell it to her ministers at Tuesday’s crunch cabinet meeting.

As many as nine ministers are believed to want her to change track, with four, including Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, aid secretary Penny Mordaunt and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, willing to resign over the matter.

This could be enough to tip May’s premiership over the edge.

According to the Sunday Times, between 42 and 44 letters of no confidence in May’s leadership have now been submitted to the backbench 1922 committee, four short of the number required to trigger a vote to remove her, with some saying she could be gone within a week.

In the event of a Tory leadership battle, Davis would look to position himself as the Brexiteer’s natural “candidate of choice”, The Mail on Sunday says. Friends of the former Brexit secretary told the paper that fellow leadership hopeful, Boris Johnson, is struggling to build a large enough base of MPs prepared to put him on the final ballot sent out to members.

But the claims have angered Johnson’s supporters, with one telling the Mail Davis was “painfully out of his depth” and insisted that he would be a “disaster” as prime minister.

With talk of cabinet revolts, letters of no confidence and even a Davis “interim” premiership, “the Sunday newspapers make desperate reading for the prime minister”, says Politico.

However, she could yet be rescued by a small cabal of Labour MPs who would vote for her compromise Chequers deal if the only alternative was crashing out of the EU without a deal.

The Observer cites research from Pawel Swidlicki for Edelman that May needs 14 Labour MPs to squeeze a deal through parliament.

Labour MPs told The Independent that at least 15 could rebel against Jeremy Corbyn and back the government.

The MPs from mainly Leave voting seats say that crashing out of the EU would be a disaster for their constituents, while also fearing a backlash from voters accusing them of blocking Brexit.

If this figure is accurate, it “could be enough to tip the balance in the Commons in favour of the deal” reports the Independent, but without Labour support, Politico says “the PM appears cornered”.

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