London, March 25 (IANS) Two ministers touted as a potential caretaker PM in reports of a cabinet coup say they fully back Theresa May.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove told reporters it was “not the time to change the captain of the ship”.
And the PM’s de facto deputy David Lidington insisted he was “100 per cent behind” May, the BBC reported on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Brexit secretary said an election will become more likely if MPs vote this week for a Brexit option the government does not want.
MPs are expected to get the chance to hold a series of so-called indicative votes on possible alternatives to Mrs May’s withdrawal deal, but Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said they would “not be binding”.
May held talks with colleagues and senior Brexiteers at Chequers, her country retreat, on Sunday.
Newspapers claim cabinet ministers are plotting a coup against the prime minister, aiming to replace her with a caretaker leader until a proper leadership contest is held later in the year.
The suggestion is that Tory MPs might reluctantly back May’s Brexit deal if they know she will not be in charge of the next stage of negotiations with the EU, but there are differing accounts of who the preferred candidate to replace her is.
The Sunday Times reports that Lidington, who voted Remain, is being lined up, while the Mail on Sunday said the Brexiteer Environment Secretary Gove was the “consensus choice”.
The prime minister has come under growing pressure to quit following a week in which she was forced to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50, and criticised for blaming the delay to Brexit on MPs.
The withdrawal deal she has negotiated with the EU has been overwhelmingly rejected in the Commons twice, and it remains unclear whether she will bring it back a third time next week after she wrote to MPs saying she would only do so if there was “sufficient support”.