40 UK Conservative Lawmakers Ready to Oust PM

May has been struggling to maintain her authority over her party since a snap election on June 8, which she called under the wrong impression that she would win by a wide margin but instead resulted in her losing her parliamentary majority
40 UK Conservative Lawmakers Ready to Oust PM 40 UK Conservative Lawmakers Ready to Oust PM

Forty members of UK parliament from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party have agreed to sign a letter of no-confidence in her, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

That is eight short of the number needed to trigger a party leadership contest, the mechanism through which May could be forced from office and replaced by another Conservative, Reuters reported.

May has been struggling to maintain her authority over her party since a snap election on June 8 which she called thinking she would win by a wide margin but instead resulted in her losing her parliamentary majority.

Divided over how to extricate Britain from the European Union and hit by multiple scandals involving ministers, May’s government has failed to assert control over a chaotic political situation that is weakening London’s hand in Brexit talks.

An earlier attempt to unseat May in the wake of her disastrous speech at the annual party conference fizzled out, but many Conservatives remain unhappy with the prime minister’s performance and talk of a leadership contest has not gone away.

May has lost two cabinet ministers in as many weeks: Michael Fallon stepped down as defense secretary after becoming implicated in a wider scandal about sexual misconduct in parliament, while Priti Patel resigned as aid minister after she was found to have had secret meetings with top Israeli officials.

In the event of a leadership contest, if a challenger defeated May he or she would take over as Conservative leader and as prime minister. A national election is not necessary for that to happen.

  Soft Coup

Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday has obtained what it says is a leaked letter from Britain Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, in which the two Vote Leave figureheads tell the PM how to deliver Brexit, Sky News reported.

A senior government source told the newspaper the memo represented a “soft coup” and showed May was “their Downing Street hostage”.

Johnson and Gove have not spoken about the emergence of the document so far, while Number 10 said it does not comment on leaks.

According to the Mail, Johnson and Gove demand in the note that the Brexit transition must end on 30 June 2021 and call on the PM to ensure the cabinet falls behind the Brexit plan by “clarifying their minds” and making sure they “internalize the logic”.

The pair also appear to take a thinly veiled shot at the Remain-backing Chancellor Philip Hammond for lacking the “sufficient energy” in preparing for Britain’s post-Brexit future.

Titled EU Exit - Next Steps and marked “For your and Gavin’s eyes only”, the letter states: “Your approach is governed by sensible pragmatism. That does not in any way dilute our ambition to be a fully independent self-governing country by the time of the next election.

“If we are to counter those who wish to frustrate that end, there are ways of underlining your resolve.

“We are profoundly worried that in some parts of government the current preparations are not proceeding with anything like sufficient energy.

“We have heard it argued by some that we cannot start preparations on the basis of ‘no deal’ because that would undermine our obligation of ‘sincere co-operation’ with the EU. If taken seriously, that would leave us over a barrel in 2021.

“We all want you to push your agenda forward with confidence and have your government articulate the following...”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has piled in, calling on May to “govern or go”.

He writes in an article in the Sunday Times: “Continuing uncertainty about the government’s approach to Brexit is now the biggest risk facing our country.”

“The prime minister must end the confusion, take on the ‘no-deal’ extremists in her government and back a jobs first Brexit for Britain.”

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