PM May could sack Boris Johnson

UK PM Theresa May signals possible demotion for Boris Johnson as rebellion weakens her hold on power

Prime Minister Theresa May hints that she wants to demote Johnson, but one minister says "he'd just say no".

"It has never been my style to hide from a challenge and I'm not going to start now", the newspaper quoted Mrs May as replying, in what it called a signal that she was prepared to bring in new ministers to her Cabinet and axe those who had caused her problems.

Last week, Mr Johnson called on Conservative colleagues to move on from "malarkey" surrounding Mrs May's position and to "get behind the PM" following her hard party conference speech.

No sooner had she resumed, than May was overtaken by a prolonged coughing fit, which continued on and off throughout the rest of the speech.

The foreign secretary's intervention, in a message to a WhatsApp group of Conservative MPs, follows an article in the Telegraph on Monday in which unnamed backers of Johnson said he might refuse to move if May tries to demote him in a reshuffle.

However, Mrs May faced growing pressure to remove Mr Hammond, who is nicknamed "Spreadsheet Phil" for his dry demeanour, before next month's Budget. It would take as long as three months for the Tories to pick a new leader, and there are just 18 months to go until Britain tumbles out of the bloc. May's Florence speech on Brexit and she should "hold him to that".

'She very much wanted to do that before the election was called because I don't think he's been completely on board.

Over the weekend, however, pro-Brexit MPs hit back, urging Mrs May to get rid of chancellor Philip Hammond, who has argued for a "softer", pro-business Brexit that would protect jobs and investment.

Ruth Davidson said there had been some "unfortunate shenanigans" in the party "but the pushback has been pretty strong" against those trying to force a leadership contest.

"The country has had enough of the self-absorbed and, frankly, disloyal behaviour we have witnessed over recent weeks", he wrote, calling for the party to unite and for the government to "win back hearts and minds" or risk the prospect of "neo-Marxist" Corbyn taking the keys to Number 10. "It's all about delivering for the country".

"Boris? Where's Boris?" Surely the foreign secretary was not deserting his leader at this moment, not now.

"There are many things I can and will criticise the Prime Minister about and I am sure there are many things she will criticise me about, that is the nature of politics".

"If they reject it, then it would indicate a stubbornness, an obduracy, on their part which would indicate that they probably don't want a deal", he said.

He hailed the Prime Minister's "powerful vision", which included warnings that a transitional period after the official European Union divorce date could last longer than two years.

Speaking to ITV News, she said: "He's been an embarrassment". That's fewer than the 48 needed to trigger a leadership battle, so if May is determined to stay, she can - for now.

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