Jacob Rees-Mogg sensationally launched his bid to remove Theresa May today threatening her position in the Commons before holding a press conference naming possible successors.
The hardline Brexiteer insisted his putsch was not about personal ambition and named Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, David Davis and Penny Mordaunt as ‘very capable of leading a proper Brexit’.
But he said Mrs May was delivering on Brexit as he joined the ranks of Tory MPs formally calling for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.
If 48 Tory MPs write to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of their backbench 1922 Committee, a vote will be held. At least 16 MPs have already gone public with letters despite them normally being kept confidential.
Mr Rees-Mogg’s dramatic move today makes it almost certain the threshold has been met.
MailOnline has been told Government whips are sounding out Tory MPs about how they will vote.
Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured outside the Commons today) sensationally launched his bid to remove Theresa May today threatening her position in the Commons before holding a press conference naming possible successors
The hardline Brexiteer (pictured during his chaotic press conference) insisted his putsch was not about personal ambition and named Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, David Davis and Penny Mordaunt
In his letter to Sir Graham today, Mr Rees-Mogg reveals he asked the Chief Whip to tell Mrs May her time was up weeks ago
At a chaotic press conference this lunchtime, Mr Rees-Mogg said that he believed the necessary 48 letters to trigger a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister would be submitted, but declined to put a timeframe on the process.
Who has sent letters of no confidence in May?
Letters of no confidence in Theresa May are confidential – but some of her strongest critics have gone public.
If 48 letters are sent a vote is called.
This is who has definitely sent a letter:
- Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Steve Baker
- Sheryll Murray
- Anne-Marie Morris
- Lee Rowley
- Henry Smith
- Simon Clarke
- Peter Bone
- James Duddridge
- Philip Davies
- Andrea Jenkyns
- Andrew Bridgen
- Nadine Dorries
- Laurence Robertson
- Martin Vickers
- Ben Bradley
If Mrs May was rejected by MPs, a vote to choose her successor could be conducted in ‘not months but weeks’, he said.
Asked why he was defying calls for party unity, he said: ‘People always call for unity when the policy they are following is wrong.
‘It is a standard pattern of Conservatives when they note that failure is in the air.’
He said that Dominic Raab should not be blamed for the deal negotiated with Brussels, as it was clear that the process was driven by Downing Street.
There was no point appointing a new Brexit Secretary, he said.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: ‘The key is, if 48 letters go in it shows there are 48 people who will not vote for this deal.
‘That in itself is a pretty powerful statement.’
He stressed that the European Research Group did not have a collective position on Mrs May’s premiership.
Asked what his message to the Prime Minister was, he said: ‘The Prime Minister said at the 1922 Committee after the election that she would serve as long as the Conservative Party wanted her to serve.
‘I think there are many people in the Conservative Party, not just in Parliament but in the country at large, who feel that her service now should come to an end.
‘She is a very dutiful person, she has served the country to the best of her ability but she has let us down in this deal.
‘It has not delivered on what she said she would do.
‘That is the key thing – it is trust that is at the heart of it. She didn’t do what she said she would.’
Asked if Mrs May had lied, he said ‘lied is a very harsh word’.
One senior Tory MP warned Mrs May appeared to be sacrificing the support of the DUP in a bid to push through a ‘nightmare’ Brexit deal.
They said Jeremy Corbyn would exploit the split with the Northern Ireland party to force his way into power.
Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister, went public today with a letter of no confidence he filed secretly last month
Brexiteer MP Henry Smith also revealed he had joined the revolt against the Prime Minister today
Cornish MP Sheryll Murray said she had also lost confidence in Mrs May’s Brexit policy and wanted a vote on her future
Long term critic Nadine Dorries said the ‘writing has been on the wall for some time’ and she had put in a letter ‘weeks ago’
They said: ‘We cannot survive without the DUP,’ they told MailOnline. ‘And this deal cannot get through unless sufficient Labour MPs vote for it.
‘Corbyn smells defeat and I’m sure he will not throw her a lifeline.’
Tory MP and Brexiteer Nadine Dorries said she ‘absolutely’ believes Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Tories, will have the letters by lunchtime today.
She said: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if they were already in.
‘There’s going to be more than 48, I’m sure of that, just by the number of people I’ve spoken to tonight. I think we will have the vote of confidence.
How Brexiteers would get rid of Theresa May: The Tory Party rules on holding a vote of no confidence and replacing her with a new leader
Brexiteers have attempted a coup against Theresa May in fury at her draft deal with the EU – but they will have to navigate Tory rules to force her out.
The Prime Minister insisted she plans to ‘see this through’ to make clear to the rebels she will not quit voluntarily.
This is how the Tory Party rules work:
What is the mechanism for removing the Tory leader? Tory Party rules allow the MPs to force a vote of no confidence in their leader.
How is that triggered? A vote is in the hands of the chairman of the Tory Party’s backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
A vote of no confidence must be held if 15 per cent of Tory MPs write to the chairman. Currently that threshold is 48 MPs.
Letters are confidential unless the MP sending it makes it public. This means only Sir Graham knows how many letters there are.
This possible delay could give Mrs May a ‘grace period’ where she knows a contest is imminent but not yet public knowledge.
A vote is in the hands of the chairman of the Tory Party’s backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady (file image)
How is a vote announced? There are few fixed rules but Sir Graham is likely to inform Downing Street or the Chief Whip and then make a public announcement.
Sir Graham is likely to check with the MPs who have sent him a letter before making an announcement in case any of them want to withdraw. This will happen secretly.
How will the vote happen? After it is announced, a vote will happen quickly, with Tory MPs invited to cast a secret ballot in a Commons committee room.
Voting will be open for one day and Sir Graham will announce the result at the end.
Brexiteers have attempted a coup against Theresa May
What needs to happen for Theresa May to win? Officially, Mrs May only needs to win a simple majority of Tory MPs – currently that is 158 MPs.
Politically, winning by one would be devastating. If more than 100 MPs vote against her, most observers think she would be finished.
What happens if she loses? Mrs May is sacked as Tory leader and Sir Graham will announce a leadership contest. She cannot stand in the contest.
She will probably stay on as Prime Minister until a replacement is elected but have no political power or authority to do anything.
What happens next? In a Tory leadership contest, any MP can stand with a proposer and seconder.
Tory MPs vote several times a week on the candidates with the last place candidate being removed from the race at each ballot.
When there are only two candidates remaining, a run off is held among all Tory members in the country.
How long will it take? The first phase depends on how many candidates there are. A large field could mean a fortnight or more of regular ballots.
In the past, the second round has taken anywhere from four to 12 twelve weeks – but some think a vote of Tory members could be finished in just a week.