Theresa May’s prospects of getting her Brexit deal through parliament this week dramatically receded on Sunday night after a high-stakes summit with Boris Johnson and other leading hard-Brexiters at her country retreat broke up without agreement.
Tory rebels present said that the prime minister repeated “all the same lines” about her deal and that nothing new emerged during the three-hour meeting, where Jacob Rees-Mogg, Iain Duncan Smith and Dominic Raab were also present.
The talks took place amid reports of an imminent coup to remove the prime minister – claims which were forcefully denied by Michael Gove, David Lidington and Philip Hammond.
But before a critical cabinet meeting on Monday morning, May remained in a perilous position, with no breakthrough and Downing Street only able to tell reporters that she had discussed “whether there is sufficient support” to hold a meaningful vote this week.
With MPs due to vote on Monday night on whether to take control of the parliamentary agenda and hold a series of indicative votes on next steps, the prime minister is now at risk of losing control of the Brexit process.
As the prime minister’s allies sought to play down speculation over the reported coup, senior members of the European Research Group and former ministers arrived at Chequers, where Duncan Smith appeared in an open-topped sports car – while Rees-Mogg brought along one of his sons.