MAY GOES TO GROUND! – Johnson & Gove are battling for her job

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PM MAY was holed up in crisis talks with senior Tories including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove at Chequers yesterday, with rumours that a a cabinet coup was underway to oust her.

However, Chancellor Hammond said such talk was ‘self indulgent’ and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay claimed May ‘is in charge’, while de facto deputy PM Lidington, rumoured to be the man being groomed to replace her, claimed: ‘I am 100% behind the prime minister.’

Barclay said there was a ‘crisis’ because ‘parliament is trying to take over the government’.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘I think what has happened over the last four days was as close to a national humiliation as I think I’ve seen.’

He went on: ‘She had a plan that she wanted to go and ask for an extension, hinged on her deal.

‘She went, they dismissed that, rather arrogantly I thought and then promptly gave her something she didn’t ask for.

‘And then we accepted it, this two-week extension if she doesn’t get her deal through.’

He commented: ‘I thought that was as close to being humiliated as any prime minister I’ve ever seen in Britain.’

He went on: ‘I was on the doorsteps for the last two days and the one constant resounding question was “I thought we were leaving on 29th March, why isn’t that the case? Why aren’t we leaving on 29th March? Are we going to extend? What’s going on?” There’s real puzzlement and anger out there.’

SNP leader Sturgeon called for parliament to defy the referendum result, saying: ‘I would like to see Article 50 revoked. That is preferable to crashing out of the EU with no deal.’

In parliament today MPs will debate Brexit next steps and a number of amendments – possible alternatives – to the government’s plan, which will be put to a vote.

One calls for the holding of a series of non-binding ‘indicative votes’ in the House of Commons, which will be run by parliament.

Tomorrow, May could bring her withdrawal deal back for the so-called third meaningful vote, but she has said she won’t do that unless she is sure she has enough support to win.

Friday 29th March is Brexit Day, unless Article 50 is revoked, although last week the EU claimed the authority to delay Brexit day until 12th April.

Andrew Rosindell, Tory MP for Romford, said of May’s deal yesterday: ‘It’s a very bad deal. It doesn’t really give you Brexit at all. It locks us in to years and years of wrangling.

‘The reality is that if we leave without a deal it doesn’t mean that there’s no deal, it means we go into bilateral agreements on a series of areas.

‘There’s already a tentative agreement for a standstill period, so there’s no cliff-edge. This is all propaganda.

‘We should follow the will of the people and get out on Friday, that’s what we voted for.’

Asked if he could be persuaded to vote for May’s deal, he went on: ‘I won’t vote for it I can assure you and my constituents are completely behind me on this.

‘So I hope that we leave, as the law says, on Friday.

‘We simply have to be bold and get out and make our own way in the world and not be so frightened.’