24 Mar 2019

British newspaper: Theresa May will be 'gone in 10 days'

6:32 pm on 24 March 2019

British Prime Minister Theresa May's top ministers are moving to oust her within days, a UK newspaper is reporting, just weeks before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union.

The EU has agreed to postpone Brexit from next Friday and give UK Prime Minister Theresa May more time to get her withdrawal deal approved in Parliament.

The EU has agreed to postpone Brexit from next Friday and give UK Prime Minister Theresa May more time to get her withdrawal deal approved in Parliament. Photo: AFP

With her Brexit strategy already laying in tatters, if May is toppled, Brexit would be thrust into further doubt. It is unclear how, when and even if the United Kingdom would leave the EU.

May, who voted to stay in the EU and won the top job in the chaos following the 2016 referendum, had vowed to deliver Brexit but she undermined her premiership with a botched snap election in 2017 which cost her party its parliamentary majority.

The Brexit divorce deal she struck with the EU in November has been overwhelmingly rejected twice by British lawmakers.

The Sunday Times cited 11 unidentified senior ministers and said they had agreed that the prime minister should stand down, warning that she had become a toxic and erratic figure whose judgement had "gone haywire".

"The end is nigh. She will be gone in 10 days," the Sunday Times quoted an unidentified minister as saying.

"Her judgement has started to go haywire. You can't be a member of the cabinet who just puts your head in the sand," the newspaper cited a second unidentified minister as saying.

The Sunday Times reported that May's de-facto deputy, David Lidington, is one contender to be interim prime minister but others are pushing for Environment Secretary Michael Gove or Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The newspaper said cabinet ministers would confront May on Monday. If she refused to go, ministers would threaten to resign.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Gove was the consensus candidate among cabinet ministers who believe Lidington is too pro-EU. But eurosceptic lawmakers also expressed scepticism about the Leave-backing Gove.

"I'm advised [Michael Gove] would also go for Customs Union plus single market with Labour votes," Steve Baker of the eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) said.

"Problems with that... Next."

The Sunday Telegraph reported that former education minister Nicky Morgan, who voted to remain, was popular among several prominent pro-Leave lawmakers as a "unity candidate" to succeed May.

May's office declined to comment on the reports.

Earlier a Downing Street source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that a Saturday Times report that there were discussions in May's office about her departure was incorrect.

Betting odds indicate there is now a 20 percent chance that May will be out of her job by the end of this month, Ladbrokes said on Saturday.

Brexit had been due to happen on 29 March before May secured a delay in talks with the European Union on Thursday.

Now a 22 May departure date will apply if parliament rallies behind the British prime minister next week and she is able to pass her deal. If she fails to do so, Britain will have until 12 April to offer a new plan or decide to leave the European Union without a treaty.

- Reuters