The sharks appear to be circling Theresa May, with British news outlets citing both Leave- and Remain-supporting sources who want her gone.
The left-liberal Guardian leads with ‘Theresa May told: raise your game in three months or face revolt’, quoting one former minister as saying: “There’s definitely been a further shift against her.”
They add: “If people could wave a magic wand tomorrow, she would be gone … if we get wiped out in London, then more will say things cannot get any better under her. The alternatives would be the utter destruction of the Tory party or a chaotic leadership election, which would at least offer some way out.”
Sack any “mandarin” in Whitehall who does not enthusiastically work towards a complete Brexit. https://t.co/dfShAalj4M
— David Vance (@DVATW) January 28, 2018
The right-leaning Telegraph suggests that the challenge is set to come from Brexit-supporting MPs, who believe she is too “timid” to deliver a clean break from the European Union.
Elsewhere, the newspaper cites a source within the Cabinet who believes bureaucrats who opposed Brexit have “taken control” of the negotiations and are “forcing a weak Prime Minister” into a so-called Soft Brexit — or, as backbench star Jacob Rees-Mogg puts it, “Brexit in name only.”
The source names Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood and senior adviser Oliver Robbins — an admirer of the old Soviet Union — as particular problems.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned Theresa May that if she delivers "Brexit in name only" the Conservatives will lose the next election. Is Theresa May helping Jeremy Corbyn get into Number 10? pic.twitter.com/P3m0TaXmjG
— LBC (@LBC) January 28, 2018
The Remain-supporting Mail on Sunday, meanwhile, cites Remain-supporting former Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps, who claims that it is “becoming increasingly clear day by day that we cannot continue to muddle along like this”, and urges May to “name a date” for her departure and “do so before it is too late”.
He notes rumours that Sir Graham Brady, who heads the 1922 Committee representing backbench Tories, has likely received over 40 letters from MPs requesting a leadership election. 48 such letters are required to trigger one.
Can Theresa May survive as prime minister?
— Laura Hughes (@Laura_K_Hughes) January 27, 2018
The establishment Financial Times, a veteran cheerleader for the European Union and European integration, asks ‘Can Theresa May Survive as Prime Minister?’, citing similar issues concerning eurosceptics’ belief that she is heading an administration “cowering and terrified of the future”.
It concludes by quoting a party grandee who believes the party is in no mood for a leadership contest, however, having concluded that this would only worsen its fortunes following the loss of its parliamentary majority in last year’s snap election.
“The fundamental calculation hasn’t changed,” they added.