Theresa May could be drafted as caretaker Prime Minister, sources say

Could Theresa May be drafted in as caretaker Prime Minister? Former leader could step up if Boris Johnson quits, sources say

  • Ex-Prime Minister Theresa May could return to the top job in a caretaker role 
  • If Boris Johnson resigns a Tory source said ‘she is uniquely placed’ for the job
  • The now-backbencher could quickly step in with her experience of being PM

Theresa May could return as caretaker prime minister if Boris Johnson resigns, Tory sources said last night.

A well-placed source said the former PM was ‘uniquely placed’ to step in if Mr Johnson tries to order a snap election or quits straight after being ousted in a break with convention.

The source said Mrs May’s position as a sitting MP with experience as prime minister left her better qualified than any member of the current Cabinet, most of whom are expected to be involved in the contest to succeed the PM.

‘She knows the ropes and the security stuff, she’s a party woman through and through, she’s definitely not interested in standing for it herself and would be credible,’ the source added.

‘She is uniquely placed.’

A Tory MP said last night that this would have an ‘element of epic schadenfreude to it, given he knifed her in the first place’.

A Tory source suggested that former Prime Minister Theresa May is ideally placed to step in as a caretaker PM if Boris Johnson were to resign

Allies of the PM have discussed trying to wrong-foot his enemies by calling an immediate election before they can oust him.

One said he had a ‘mandate from the public’ which could not be overridden by Tory MPs.

During a grilling by MPs on the Commons liaison committee yesterday, Mr Johnson equivocated over whether he would countenance calling an election if his MPs tried to remove him.

One Tory MP said such a move would put the Queen in a ‘very difficult position’, adding: ‘She would have to ask is there anyone else who could command the support of MPs – while a broader leadership election took place – rather than go to a general election.’

Catherine Haddon, from the Institute for Government think-tank, said the monarch did have the power to block an election.

‘Informally, the Palace could tell him no. The question is whether he would go against that informal advice and ask anyway – which would leave the Queen facing a very political decision,’ she added.

‘Whatever you argue about the massive constitutional problems if she did refuse, she can act.’

By convention, ousted leaders stay on to oversee the contest to replace them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly stated that he will not be resigning from the job

David Cameron and Mrs May remained as prime minister while their successors were elected.

But one MP close to the PM said: ‘He could just go. It would be humiliating for him to stay on after being ousted. I’m not sure he’s got the stomach for that.’

Mr Johnson played a major role in the removal of Mrs May, with his resignation as foreign secretary over Brexit in 2018 seen as a pivotal moment in her downfall.

The former Prime Minister has made little secret of her disdain for her successor.

Last week she savaged his bid to rewrite parts of the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland, saying: ‘As a patriot, I would not want to do anything that would diminish this country in the eyes of the world.

‘This Bill will not achieve its aims and it will diminish the standing of the UK in the eyes of the world, and I cannot support it.’

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