Theresa May ‘will have to offer to step down’ to convince enough Tory MPs to back her Brexit deal next week
- Prime Minister today begged Tory MPs to ‘act like patriots’ and support her deal
- Several are understood to be prepared to support her if she offers to step down
- Whips believed to have contacted several MPs to float prospect of buying votes
Rory Tingle For Mailonline
Theresa May could have to agree to step down to convince enough Tory MPs to back her Brexit deal when it is put before the Commons next week, reports suggest.
The Prime Minister today begged Tory MPs to ‘act like patriots’ and support her agreement if it goes to a vote for the third time on Tuesday or Wednesday, but still needs to win over around 75 hardcore Brexiteers.
Several rebel Tories told The Observer they would vote with Mrs May if she agreed to resign over the summer.
Several Tory MPs are said to be willing to support Theresa May’s deal if she offers her resignation. The PM is seen today at church in Berkshire with her husband, Philip
Whips are believed to have contacted several MPs to float the prospect of buying their votes in return for a new Prime Minister.
‘I’ve been approached by whips offering the PM’s resignation if I vote her deal through,’ Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, told The Sunday Times.
The newspaper said it had knowledge of four such conversations coordinated by chief whip Julian Smith, although Number 10 disputes this.
One ex-minister said: ‘I was asked if her going would change my vote. I said it wouldn’t.’
Mrs May’s team have not discussed resignation with her, The Sunday Times reported, but everyone apart from her cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, and chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, are said to be reconciled with her leaving in the summer.
It comes amid reports a group of staunch Tory Brexiteers are privately vowing to force a no-confidence vote in the Government if it negotiates an extended delay to Brexit at an EU summit this week.
‘I’ve been approached by whips offering the PM’s resignation if I vote her deal through,’ Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, (pictured on November 14 last year) said
If the Prime Minister loses a third Meaningful Vote on her Brexit deal this week – or fails to put it to the Commons because defeat is inevitable – then she plans to travel to the European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday to request a delay to Brexit of up to two years.
The EU has indicated that it is only minded to accept a delay on the basis that the UK agrees to stringent new conditions – such as signing up to membership of a customs union.
But a ‘suicide squad’ of members of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, numbering up to 15, have threatened to team up with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party to force a confidence measure before she could put the delay to an essential vote in the Commons.
If the move succeeded, the Prime Minister would be forced from Downing Street just days before the UK left the EU without a deal – an ultra-chaotic ‘no PM and no deal’ scenario.
However, allies of Mrs May are relaxed about the prospect.
A senior Tory source said: ‘It is hard to imagine Labour voting to stop a delay to Brexit and a customs union in favour of a chaotic no deal.’
It comes amid signs some staunch Tory Brexiteers are waving in their opposition to Mrs May’s agreement.
Iain Duncan Smith is said to have been prepared to back Mrs May’s deal at its second showing if Attorney General Geoffrey Cox had changed his legal advice on the Irish backstop,as was European Research Group chairman Mr Rees-Mogg.
But despite the positive signs Mrs May still faces a difficult task ahead, with senior ERG figures predicting she will lose her third vote by ‘well over 100 votes’, according to the Sunday Telegraph.