Theresa May is facing pressure to abandon her Brexit deal and quit as British prime minister within days, according to people familiar with the matter.
Several senior government officials said they were shocked that the premier’s new offer intended to win votes in parliament for her European Union divorce agreement had been so badly received so quickly.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the individuals said May’s allies know there is little hope of her Withdrawal Agreement Bill passing a crucial vote in the House of Commons, even after she promised MPs the chance to call a second referendum on Brexit.
The premier was expected to make the case for her “new deal” in a statement to parliament on Wednesday. But with a fourth humiliating defeat for her plan now looking likely, May’s Conservative Party colleagues will urge her to cancel the vote on her Bill, planned for the first week of June.
That will leave her with little reason to carry on as prime minister. A number of officials inside the party believe she will face intense pressure from her own ministers to quit and make way for a new leader to try to deliver Brexit.
“I will not vote for it,” wrote Boris Johnson, the most senior pro-Brexit candidate who wants to replace May as Tory leader, tweeted. “We can and must do better — and deliver what the people voted for.”
The speculation over May’s future intensified after she made a desperate final gamble to get her Brexit deal through the British Parliament before she’s thrown out of office.
In a hastily arranged speech, the embattled Conservative leader promised to give parliament a vote on whether to call another referendum to ratify Britain’s divorce from the EU.
While May opposes another plebiscite, it’s something many MPs — including scores in the opposition Labour Party — have been calling for. May made her offer conditional on MPs backing her overall deal first.
In a hint that the vote could yet be pulled, May’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove refused to confirm that MPs would still be given a chance to vote in the week of June 3, as previously promised. “I think we will reflect over the next few days on how people look at the proposition that has been put forward,” he told BBC Radio 4.