May's Cabinet in Open Revolt, Plotting Overthrow, Times Says

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23 mars 2019, 23.36

(Bloomberg) -- Theresa May’s cabinet is in open revolt against the prime minister and wants an interim leader to complete the Brexit process.

According to the Sunday Times, at least six senior ministers want her deputy, David Lidington, to take the job until there’s a formal leadership election. They’ll confront her at a cabinet meeting Monday, and threaten a mass resignation if she doesn’t step down, the report said. Michael Gove, a leading Brexiteer in the 2016 referendum, and Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt also have some support.

Senior cabinet ministers won’t support immediate attempts to replace May as their priority is to get Brexit policy back on track, ITV journalist Robert Peston said in tweets. He added that they need to first make sure whether there will be a no-deal Brexit, amended deal or referendum, and only then replace the prime minister.

The Sunday Times, which spoke to 11 ministers, also noted:

  • Hunt isn’t in favor of Lidington because he thinks the deputy will strike a deal with Labour that allows the U.K. to become a permanent customs union member.
  • Gove is willing to take on the role and has been putting together a leadership campaign team.
  • Home Secretary Sajid Javid would back Lidington if the other candidates step aside; he wouldn’t support Gove or Hunt.

May has grown increasingly isolated in recent months, at home and in Brussels. She has twice tried and failed to steer her EU-approved deal through Parliament, last week’s televised address irked colleagues by pinning the blame for the deadlock on the House of Commons, and her dramatic shift in tone toward embracing a no-deal Brexit has angered the bulk of her Conservative Party lawmakers.

The report comes hours after hundreds of thousands of Britons poured into the streets of London demanding a second public vote. Most of the attendees favor Britain staying in the bloc.

If May were removed, it wouldn’t necessarily trigger a general election. Under the country’s Fixed-Term Parliament Act, the next election is scheduled for May 2022.

(Updates to add ITV journalist’s report in third paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Nick Lichtenberg in New York at nlichtenberg@bloomberg.net;Jim Jia in Sydney at jjia1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew G. Miller at mmiller144@bloomberg.net, Margo Towie, Robert Fenner

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