Who are the Conservative MPs plotting against Theresa May over Brexit? – UK

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The prime minister is facing an open discussion within Tory ranks about her future in Downing Street, as opposition continues to mount to her Brexit strategy.

A group of about 50 Conservative backbenchers met on Tuesday night to discuss Theresa May’s leadership, with the gathering characterised as “open revolt”.

One MP present revealed they will now be “shocked” if there is not a vote of confidence in the prime minister after the Tory conference at the end of this month.

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:: Votes of no confidence: How they are triggered

But, who is actively plotting against the prime minister? And who is reluctant to topple Mrs May with less than 200 days to go until Brexit?

‘SHE HAS TO GO’

A handful of Tory MPs have publicly stated their discontent with Mrs May’s leadership, in the wake of her so-called Chequers plan for Brexit.

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Andrew Bridgen, Andrea Jenkyns and Philip Davies have all submitted letters to the Conservative 1922 committee to state they have no confidence in the prime minister.



Nadine Dorries talking on Sky News about Boris Johnson,








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Dorries: ‘End of the road’ for PM

If a total of 48 MPs do the same, Mrs May will face a vote of no confidence in the first step towards possibly ousting her from the Tory leadership.

Nadine Dorries is also among the prime minister’s fiercest critics, recently telling Sky News it is now the “end of the road” for Mrs May.

‘SHE MUST CHUCK CHEQUERS’

The European Research Group (ERG) of Tory MPs are strident critics of the prime minister’s Brexit plan and are demanding Mrs May “chuck Chequers”.

Their number include those who are also wanting Mrs May to be toppled.

However, the official mantra of the ERG is that they want to “change the policy, not the person”, meaning they are likely to continue to support Mrs May – as long as she backs down over Brexit.

Sky News understands ERG chair Jacob Rees-Mogg was not present at Monday’s meeting where Mrs May’s leadership was discussed, even though former ERG leader Steve Baker chaired the meeting.

Jacob Rees-Mogg speaking to Sky News after the EFT event
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Jacob Rees-Mogg chairs the European Research Group

The ERG was formed in the early 1990s amid eurosceptic anger at the Maastricht Treaty, which paved the way for the formation of the European Union out of the European Community.

Current estimates of the size of the ERG membership vary from between 50 to 80.

Mr Baker recently claimed 80 Tory MPs would be willing to vote against Mrs May’s Chequers plan in the House of Commons.

The ERG is partly publicly-funded as one of parliament’s “pooled services”.

MPs who are members of the ERG are allowed to claim from their staffing or office costs their payments to the group, which charges an annual membership fee of £20,000.

All the other main parties also have their own “pooled services” groups.

‘AM I THE ONE TO REPLACE MAY?’

Despite sharing his opposition to Chequers, Boris Johnson does not appear to associate too closely with the ERG, even though he made a surprise appearance at one of their events in parliament this week.

After quitting the government in protest at Mrs May’s Brexit strategy, the former foreign secretary has also widened his attacks on the prime minister to include domestic policy.

Boris Johnson
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Boris Johnson quit government in protest at the Chequers plan

He recently called on Mrs May to introduce Donald Trump-style tax cuts in the UK, which fuelled speculation he is laying the ground for a leadership bid.

‘IT’S THE WORST OF ALL WORLDS’

Tory Remainers are also unhappy with the Chequers plan, with MPs such as Justine Greening and Johnny Mercer describing the proposals as “the worst of all worlds”.

They are less robust in their criticism and have not voiced any direct attacks on the prime minister

But some, such as Ms Greening, have their own uncomfortable history with Mrs May having previously served in her cabinet.

Justine Greening
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Justine Greening wants a three-way EU referendum

The ex-education secretary resigned from government at the beginning of the year after refusing the job of work and pensions secretary in a reshuffle.

Ms Greening is calling for a three-way referendum on Brexit; a public choice between the Chequers plan, leaving the EU with no deal, or staying in the bloc.

Meanwhile, fellow former minister Nick Boles is suggesting the prime minister tries to unite Tories by signing up to a Norway-style relationship with the EU for a short period before chasing a cleaner break afterwards.

‘ARE WE THE ONES TO REPLACE MAY?’

Mrs May’s current ministers are bound to the Chequers deal under government collective responsibility and, therefore, are professing public loyalty to the prime minister.

However, a number will no doubt be harbouring their own leadership ambitions, with Sky News being told ministers are privately confiding to backbenchers that Mrs May “has to go”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid arrives in Downing Street
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Home Secretary Sajid Javid has not been shy to disagree with the PM

Of those currently serving in cabinet, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Environment Secretary Michael Gove are among the bookies’ favourites to be the next Tory leader.

Since taking on his role at the Home Office, Mr Javid has shown little reluctance to disagree with the prime minister’s stance on a number of issues.

‘STOP THE INFIGHTING AND GET ON WITH THE JOB’

There are also a number of Conservative MPs and ministers who are fed up with party infighting and manoeuvring at a crucial time in the Brexit negotiations.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen told Sky News on Wednesday: “The business of government goes on, we’ve got critical decisions to make in our negotiations in how to leave the EU and we’re getting on with the business of government.

“I don’t recognise any plots or I don’t understand why people would be doing that. Government’s a serious matter and we’ve got to get on with it.”

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