TORY grandees were today accused of launching a “stop Boris campaign” to make sure Boris Johnson can never become PM.
Remain-backing MPs are jostling for position to try and shut out the Brexiteer big beast.
London News Pictures Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to be the next Prime Minister
But his backers insisted Boris is a “big winner” who has been targeted by enemies in the party for more than a decade.
Mr Johnson is the bookies’ favourite to take over from Mrs May when she quits later this year.
Today veteran Tory Sir Patrick McLoughlin, the former party chairman, accused senior Brexiteers of being “reckless” by pushing for No Deal.
He wrote in the Sunday Times: “Defining ourselves as the Brexit party, pursuing the hardest form of Brexit with a parliament that will not deliver it, is a recipe for paralysis in government and suicide with the electorate.
“We are and must remain the Conservative party, not the Vote Leave party.”
Tory MP Nadine Dorries, one of Boris’ biggest backers, claimed the article was part of an orchestrated effort to defeat the frontrunner.
She said today: “There has been a stop Boris campaign since the days of Michael Howard pushing forward Cameron and Osborne.
“Boris is a big winner. Many of those with their own eye on No10 aren’t a fan of that prospect.”
There has been a stop Boris campaign since the days of Michael Howard pushing forward Cameron and OsborneBoris is a big winner. Many of those with their own eye on No10 aren’t a fan of that prospectHard Brexit leader would be suicide, top Tories warnhttps://t.co/EC4rnZupok— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) April 14, 2019
In recent days Sajid Javid launched his own leadership campaign with a speech to Tory MPs where he emphasised his humble roots.
And Dominic Raab laid out his pitch by calling for huge cuts in stamp duty to help renters get on to the property ladder.
Other leading contenders are likely to include Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock.
Today ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith called for Mrs May to step down as soon as next month after delaying Brexit for a second time.
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He told Sky News: “I know that the Prime Minister has already said she’s going.
“She said she would go as and when the agreement was ratified which was looking at around about May, June. I think those dates still stand.”
After the PM formally announces her resignation, Tory MPs will spend a few weeks picking two candidates to go to a vote of the whole party membership.
Tory MPs could change rules on leadership challenge to get May out
TORY chiefs could change party rules so Theresa May can be forced out in the coming weeks, it emerged today.
The Prime Minister can’t be formally challenged by MPs until December after inning a confidence vote last year.
But two former heads of the 1922 Committee which governs the Conservative party insisted it would be easy to tweak the rules – allowing a second vote to be held.
Lord Spicer and Lord Hamilton said MPs could give themselves the right to trigger a no-confidence motion whenever they want rather than waiting 12 months between contests.
If that did happen, rebellious Brexiteers would almost certainly put in enough letters to topple the party leader within weeks or even days.
The two grandees wrote in the Sunday Telegraph: “Conservative MPs are responsible for their party. If they wish to change these rules there is nothing standing in their way.”
Sir Graham Brady, current chair of the 1922 Committee, said: “It is my understanding that the rules could in future be changed by the agreement of the 1922 executive.”
But he warned it may be unfair if the rules changed during the 12-month period where Mrs May believes she is safe from a challenge.
Erfyl Lloyd Davies Theresa May leaving church while on holiday in Wales today
AFP Sajid Javid is expected to challenge for No10
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage launches Brexit Party to fight back again EU betrayal
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