UK PM May pressured to step down to save Brexit
Mrs May was ensconced in a crisis meeting at her country residence Chequers with fellow Conservatives and outspoken Brexit advocates like Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and others who would prefer to leave the European Union without a divorce deal rather than delay Britain's departure from the bloc further.
The prime minister has found her authority weakened after a series of setbacks in Parliament and her inability to win meaningful concessions from EU leaders who refuse to sweeten the Brexit deal.
The Sunday Times claims that 11 Cabinet ministers plan to tell Mrs May to resign so a caretaker leader can be put in her place to kick start the stalled Brexit process. She faces growing pressure from within her own party either to resign or to set a date for stepping down as a way to build support for her Brexit plan.
The confrontation may come to a head at a Cabinet session expected Monday (local time).
Under Conservative Party rules, Mrs May cannot face a formal leadership challenge from within her own party until December because she survived one three months ago. But she may be persuaded that her position is untenable if top Cabinet ministers and other senior party members desert her.
Despite headlines about a Cabinet coup, there was no indication from Downing Street that a resignation was near. Two of the people mentioned as possible successors – Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Treasury chief Philip Hammond – expressed strong support for Mrs May.
Mr Hammond said that senior party members plotting to oust Mrs May were being "self-indulgent".
He said a change of leadership would not provide a solution to the UK's political deadlock on Brexit.
"We've got to address the question of what type of Brexit is acceptable to Parliament, what type of way forward Parliament can agree on so that we can avoid what would be an economic catastrophe of a no-deal exit and also what would be a very big challenge to confidence in our political system if we didn't exit at all," Mr Hammond said.
Mr Lidington, mentioned as a possible caretaker prime minister should Mrs May be ousted, said that talk of a Cabinet revolt was far-fetched speculation. He said Mrs May is doing a "fantastic job" and that he has no desire to take her place.
Still, Mrs May thus far has been unable to generate enough support in Parliament for the deal her government and the EU reached late last year. Lawmakers voted down the Brexit plan twice, and Mrs May has raised the possibility of bringing it back a third time if enough legislators appear willing to switch their votes.
The Cabinet is focused on the best way to get Mrs May's withdrawal plan passed in the House of Commons, Mr Lidington said.
The UK's departure from the EU was set to take place on March 29, but the absence of an approved divorce agreement prompted Mrs May last week to ask the leaders of the 27 remaining member nations for a postponement.
The leaders agreed to delay Brexit until May 22, on the eve of the EU Parliament elections, if the prime minister can persuade Parliament to endorse the twice-rejected agreement.
If she is unable to rally support for the withdrawal agreement, the European leaders said Britain only has until April 12 to choose between leaving the EU without a divorce deal and a new path, such as revoking the decision to leave the bloc or calling another voter referendum on Brexit.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019