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JACOB REES-MOGG made another desperate public plea today for Tory MPs to force a vote of no confidence in PM Theresa May by warning that they will be stuck with her as leader for the next general election unless they act now.
The leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERS), which is highly critical of Ms May’s plans for leaving the EU, claimed that there was little enthusiasm among Conservative MPs for her to take them into the next general election, due in 2022.
His attempt last week to garner more support for a vote of no confidence was mocked as “a bit Dad’s Army,” as his plan to topple Ms May descended into farce.
In ramping up the divisions already apparent within the party, Mr Rees-Mogg told them: “I think it is now or the Prime Minister will lead the Conservatives into the next election.
“You find MPs privately who will say to you they think that is a really good idea in any number and I would be quite surprised.”
Last week, senior ERG figures were confidently predicting they would get the 48 letters of no confidence from MPs to the backbench 1922 Committee that are needed to trigger a vote in Ms May’s leadership.
Committee chair Graham Brady has refused to reveal how many letters he has received so far, but it has been reported that only 26 MPs have submitted letters.
Mr Rees-Mogg said he doubts that a fresh challenge to her leadership would take place in practice if she won a vote of confidence.
“Getting the 48 letters has shown to be quite difficult, so the idea that, in a year, you just repeat the process and then she would go at that point, I don’t think that is realistic,” he said.
Mr Rees-Mogg’s warning came as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon held separate talks in Westminster with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price on Brexit.
A Labour spokesman: “They discussed their common opposition to Theresa May’s botched Brexit deal and determination to work across Parliament to prevent a disastrous no-deal outcome.”
Speaking after the meeting, a spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said: “It is clear that we are united in our opposition to the Prime Minister's Brexit deal, which puts jobs and living standards at risk. We agreed that we will not be boxed into supporting no-deal.
“The SNP has consistently said we will work with other parties to prevent a damaging Brexit and we will continue to do so.”
The warning follows a threat from DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, whose party joined Labour on last night in voting against the government on a Budget measure while abstaining in two other divisions in apparent breach of their “confidence and supply” agreement.
Mr Dodds made clear that the DUP was ready to continue voting against the government unless Ms May ditched her Brexit proposals and sought out a better deal from the EU.
Ms May will meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for talks in Brussels today before an emergency EU Brexit summit on Sunday.
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