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Almost half of voters think Theresa May should carry out Cabinet reshuffle, poll finds

Exclusive: New poll for The Independent found 45 per cent think Prime Minister should bring warring Tories in line

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Monday 23 October 2017 01:47 BST
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The Prime Minister has faced calls to sack Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond over their respective Brexit approaches
The Prime Minister has faced calls to sack Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond over their respective Brexit approaches (Reuters)

Almost half of people think Theresa May should reshuffle her top team to restore her authority amid reports of Cabinet strife, a new poll shows.

The exclusive survey for The Independent found that 45 per cent thought the Prime Minister should bring warring ministers in line as flagging Brexit negotiations exposed fault lines at the top of the party.

Only 18 per cent of voters thought Ms May should stay the course and hold back from a Cabinet reshuffle, the poll by BMG Research found.

The results come as Ms May returned from a meeting in Brussels where EU leaders agreed to scope out trade talks but made clear she must make more concessions on Britain’s divorce payment to unlock talks on a future trading relationship.

Speculation has mounted over a possible reshuffle to revitalise her administration and the weakened Prime Minister has faced recent calls from rival Conservative factions to sack Philip Hammond or Boris Johnson over their respective Brexit approaches.

Downing Street saw off an attempt to oust Ms May in the wake of her calamitous party conference showing, when her key speech was marred by a comedian clutching a P45 form, the set collapsed around her and she was plagued by a persistent cough.

However the attempted coup fizzled out when senior Conservatives rallied around the Prime Minister and branded ringleader Grant Shapps, a former party chairman, as “cowardly” and “embittered”.

In the wake of the plot, Ms May hinted she would consider sacking Mr Johnson as Foreign Secretary after he provoked ire in the party with repeated interventions over the Government’s Brexit strategy.

Asked what she planned to do with the Foreign Secretary, Mrs May previously told The Sunday Times: “I didn’t come into politics for an easy life.

“It has never been my style to hide from a challenge and I’m not going to start now.

“I’m the PM, and part of my job is to make sure I always have the best people in my cabinet, to make the most of the wealth of talent available to me in the party.”

The Prime Minister has also faced calls to demote Mr Hammond as the pro-Remain Chancellor has enraged Tory Brexiteers by refusing to prepare for crashing out of the EU with no deal.

Mr Hammond got into hot water when he had to apologise for calling the EU “the enemy” during a recent TV interview in Washington.

It is thought the timing of next month’s Budget makes it impossible for the Prime Minister to get rid of Mr Hammond, who has the support of many business leaders for his cautious Brexit approach.

But Brexiteer Tories are said to be demanding he goes if Mr Johnson is sacked, which may make it difficult for Ms May to demote the Foreign Secretary.

Fieldwork was carried out between 17 to 20 October, interviewing a 1506 GB adults aged 18+. Results were weighted to reflect the profile of GB adults. BMG are members of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules. Full details at www.bmgresearch.co.uk/polling

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