Tory Leadership ‘Dossier’ Fuels Westminster Coup Speculation

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 30: Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a campaign rally at The Grand Station on May 30, 2017 in Wolverhampton, England. Britain goes to the polls on June 8 to elect a new parliament in a general election. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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A leaked alleged internal party memo claims senior Tories are plotting who will be the next Prime Minister and to “oust Theresa May” after Brexit next year.

The document bluntly discusses the merits and faults of Mrs May’s potential replacements. It was written in April but has been sent around between MPs in recent days, The Telegraph reports.

However, some MPs dismissed the alleged leak as a hoax, calling it “out of date” and pointing to spelling mistakes.

“The 1922 will invite the PM to stand-down soon(ish) after March 2019,” it says, before exploring the candidates.

Environment secretary and Brexiteer Michael Gove is touted as a possible future chancellor but Boris Johnson’s chances of taking the top job are played down, as “the front runner never wins”.

The leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) of MPs, Jacob Rees-Mogg, is acknowledged as “the party’s favourite” but said to be “unlikely to succeed to the last two”.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis is said to be interested despite “pretending” not to be. However, he “won’t succeed” as he’s “too late”, the memo adds, and international trade secretary Liam Fox’s hopes are “fading”.

Jeremy Hunt, who replaced Mr Johnson as foreign secretary in June, was called a “dark horse, near the front of the pack coming up on the rail”.

The memo added, “Note John Major 1990” referring to the former Tory Prime Minister who won an unexpected victory in the 1990 leadership election.

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, is dismissed as “totally unsuitable” but Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington, who is loyal to Mrs May, is called “a Remainer, but not incredible”.

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson is described as “in full campaign mode, but very reliant on PM controlling her own departure point”.

Over the summer, Mr Rees-Mogg and Johnson have increasingly and more openly attacked Mrs May and her Brexit plan, with the 60-strong ERG publishing an alternative plan for the divorce in a direct challenge to her power.

The alleged leak comes as a senior Tory MP once regarded as stanchly loyal to Mrs May breaks ranks to slam her Chequers Brexit plan as “dead as a dodo”.

Sir Mike Penning, who held a number of ministerial posts including serving under Mrs May at the Home Office, said she was aiming to “blackmail” MPs into supporting the plan by threatening a second referendum.

Sir Mike said the prime minister was “deluded” if she thought she could force Brexiteer Tory MPs to vote in Parliament for a Brexit deal based on Chequers — which is known to be unpopular with the party and public.

He said she was acting in an authoritarian way and treating her own MPs “like children who belong on the naughty step” over Brexit.

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