The Times: Revealed: plots by cabinet’s ‘big four’ to seize May’s crown24 September 2017 | 04:43 | FOCUS News Agency
With the prime minister already presiding over growing cabinet divisions after her big speech on Brexit, she faces a fresh blow today with the news that Boris Johnson, Philip Hammond, David Davis and Amber Rudd were embroiled in leadership plots after she surrendered the Tory majority.
In a move that could have brought down May, the chancellor texted the foreign secretary at about four o’clock in the morning after the election signalling that he was prepared to back Johnson if he ran for the leadership.
A source who discussed the leadership with the chancellor that morning says Hammond thought Johnson should head a triumvirate in which Davis “could run Brexit, [Hammond] could run the economy and Boris could run the shop”.
“I know on that first day he thought Boris could be the answer because he’d have this reach and appeal,” the Hammond ally said.
The plan foundered when it became clear May was not going to stand down and Davis signalled that he would not defer to Johnson.
The revelations are contained in a new book — Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem — which is serialised in The Sunday Times today.
The book comes as:
■ At least four cabinet ministers, led by Hammond, signalled at a meeting on Thursday that they want a longer Brexit transition period than the two years May outlined in her speech in Florence on Friday, with the business department backing a five-year handover
■ It emerged that Johnson wrote his bombshell Brexit article published last weekend after seeing a paper on Britain’s negotiating position signalling that May was on the verge of backing a deal that would have forced Britain to agree any changes in regulations with Brussels even after leaving the EU
■ Rebel leaders claimed last night that up to 50 Conservative MPs now want May to resign, more than the 48 who would be needed to force a vote of no confidence in her leadership.
A source close to Hammond yesterday confirmed his election night backing for Johnson, saying: “I’m not going to quibble with that.”
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