March 25, 2019: British Prime Minister Theresa May will on Monday chair a potentially volatile meeting of her cabinet amid reports of an attempted coup by colleagues over her handling of Brexit.
May will meet the very ministers said to be plotting to oust her at the start of another crucial week in Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, which could see MPs seize control of the process from the government.
Lawmakers are set to vote later Monday on whether to force through the House of Commons a series of so-called “indicative votes” to gauge support for various Brexit options.
Meanwhile May must decide when, or even if, to ask them to vote again on her divorce deal — finalised with the EU last year — which they have already overwhelmingly rejected twice.
Under a new timetable imposed by European leaders last week, she now has until April 12 to win MPs' backing for the agreement or find a viable alternative which could include a lengthy extension to Brexit.
However, after a disastrous last week, the increasingly isolated leader spent the weekend ensconced at her country residence Chequers “at the mercy of a full-blown cabinet coup”, according to the Sunday Times.
The newspaper said it had spoken to 11 senior ministers who “confirmed that they wanted the prime minister to make way for someone else” and planned to confront her at Monday's cabinet.
Such gatherings usually take place on Tuesdays but Downing Street confirmed one was scheduled for 10:00 am (1000 GMT) Monday.
Ministers identified as potential interim replacements played down the reports.
“It's not the time to change the captain of the ship,” said Environment Minister and leading Brexiteer Michael Gove.
But Brexit-backing tabloid The Sun, Britain's best-selling daily, called for May to announce Monday that she will resign as soon as her deal is approved and Britain leaves the EU.
Under the headline “Time's up, Theresa”, the paper said that was the “only one, slim chance” her deal would have of getting parliamentary backing.