British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after addressing a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels, March 22, 2019. (FRANK AUGSTEIN / AP)
LONDON - British Prime Minister Theresa May’s top ministers are moving to oust her within days, The Sunday Times reported, as her Brexit strategy lay in tatters just weeks before the United Kingdom was due to leave the European Union.
If May is toppled, Brexit would be thrust into doubt. It is unclear how, when and even if the United Kingdom will 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 end is nigh. She will be gone in 10 days,” the Sunday Times quoted an unidentified minister as saying
The Sunday Times cited 11 unidentified senior ministers and said they had agreed that the prime minister should stand down, warning that she has become a toxic and erratic figure whose judgment has “gone haywire”.
“The end is nigh. She will be gone in 10 days,” the Sunday Times quoted an unidentified minister as saying.
“Her judgment 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 newspaper said cabinet ministers would confront May on Monday. If she refuses to go, ministers would threaten to resign.
When asked about the report and whether May had run out of road, finance minister Philip Hammond said "No. I don't think that is the case at all."
He said Britain must find a way to leave the European Union in an orderly fashion rather than trying to oust May.
"Changing prime minister wouldn't help us," he said. "To be talking about changing the players on the board, frankly, is self-indulgent at this time."
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 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.
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
“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 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 March 29 before May secured a delay in talks with the European Union on Thursday.
Now a May 22 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 April 12 to offer a new plan or decide to leave the European Union without a treaty.
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