Top Tory Brexiteers have arrived at Theresa May’s country retreat today, after the Prime Minister summoned them in the hope of persuading them to finally back her doomed divorce deal.
The Prime Minister is holding sink or swim talks at Chequers this afternoon with leading eurosceptics including Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, David Davis and Iain Duncan Smith.
Mr Duncan Smith arrived at the country house in a British racing green classic sports car with the top down.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis and Tory chief whip Julian Smith shared a car and arrived together.
And Mr Rees-Mogg arrived with his son in the passenger seat.
European Research Group spokesman Steve Baker was also seen arriving at the meeting, but was not on the list of expected attendees.
Witnesses said Mr Johnson did not appear to be wearing a seatbelt as he drove on the public road leading up to Chequers.
She is expected to warn them that with MPs on the brink of taking over the Brexit process they have one last chance to avoid Parliament pushing towards a softer future relationship with the EU.
But Mrs May will also be under intense pressure to set out a timetable for her departure in order to get the key Brexiteers – who between them could carry dozens of Tory votes – on board.
She has already been warned by numerous Tory eurosceptics in face-to-face meetings that the only way of securing their support is by quitting.
De facto deputy PM David Lidington and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, both of whom have been touted as potential care-taker leaders, are also expected at the summit, along with Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay.
Mrs May faces a full-blown cabinet coup after ministers reportedly branded her ‘toxic’ and ‘erratic’.
One minister told the Sunday Times the Prime Minister’s judgement had gone “haywire”.
Another said: “The end is nigh. She won’t be Prime Minister in 10 days time.
David Lidington, Mrs May’s deputy, and Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary are both thought to be lining up to replace her if she agrees to step down.
Tory MP George Freeman, Mrs May’s former policy advisor, tweeted: “I’m afraid it’s all over for the PM.
“She’s done her best. But across the country you can see the anger.
“Everyone feels betrayed. Government’s gridlocked. Trust in democracy collapsing. This cant go on.
“We need a new PM who can reach out & build some sort of coalition for a Plan B.”
After another turbulent week for the Prime Minister which saw her come under fire for delaying Brexit and seeking to blame MPs for the impasse, the Commons was expected to be given the third chance to vote on her Withdrawal Agreement this week.
But on Friday night Mrs May wrote to parliamentarians warning if there is insufficient support for her Withdrawal Agreement in the coming days that she could seek an extension to Britain’s EU membership beyond the European Parliament elections.
Mrs May said she was holding Brexit meetings over the weekend as she tweeted pictures of herself on the local election campaign trail in Milton Keynes.
Speaking to reporters in his Aylesbury constituency, Mr Lidington, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “I don’t think that I’ve any wish to take over from the PM (who) I think is doing a fantastic job.
“I tell you this – one thing that working closely with the Prime Minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task.
“I have absolute admiration for the way she is going about it.”
Brexiteer Mr Duncan Smith told the BBC the last week in politics had been “as close to a national humiliation as I think I’ve seen”.
Lashing out at dissenting ministers, he said: “I think that’s appalling, I think they should be censured and some of them should be sacked.
“And the idea of a cabal, a cabal that never wanted to leave the European Union, turning out to decide what should happen over our future would be unacceptable to my colleagues.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The PM and a number of Government Ministers met today at Chequers for lengthy talks with senior colleagues about delivering Brexit.
“The meeting discussed a range of issues, including whether there is sufficient support in the Commons to bring back a Meaningful Vote this week.”
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