Tory Brexiteers are increasingly confident they have enough support to trigger a no-confidence vote in Theresa May as party leader. If 48 Conservative MPs submit letters to say they no longer support her, a leadership challenge will be launched. There is no confirmation but sources, including a cabinet minister, have said they believe 48 letters have been sent.
The BBC has also been told the senior backbencher who receives the letters has asked to see the PM on Wednesday. However Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the backbench 1922 committee, would make no comment.
Downing Street sources are playing down an imminent move and say they have had no contact from him.
Mrs May has spent Tuesday meeting EU leaders and officials in The Hague, Berlin and Brussels, in efforts to salvage her Brexit deal - which faces major opposition in Parliament.
Her decision to delay the vote on the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, which had been due to take place on Tuesday, has caused anger across the party.
So far, 27 Tory MPs have publicly stated they have sent letters saying they have lost confidence in their leader - but speculation has increased that the numbers have risen.
Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was among the latest to call for Mrs May to go, saying she had failed to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, tried to bounce her ministers into supporting her and approached negotiations like a feeble and unworthy supplicant.
These mistakes have eroded trust in the government, to the point where I and many others can no longer take the prime minister at her word, he wrote in his letter, published by the Daily Telegraph.
She has repeatedly said 'no deal is better than a bad deal', but it is clear her objective was to secure a deal at any cost.
But former cabinet minister Damian Green, who supports Mrs May, told BBC's Newsnight: If people have written letters to this degree... this is an act of monumental self-indulgence.
People outside the Westminster bubble will be looking at this thinking 'we have got a prime minister doing really difficult negotiations at the sharp end of one of the most important decisions this country has taken in 50 years'. To undermine a prime minister at this stage seems to me to be wholly wrong.
Asked on Tuesday evening whether she had been told the threshold of 48 letters had been reached, Mrs May replied: No, I have been here in Europe dealing with the issue I have promised Parliament I would be dealing with.
She is due to travel to Dublin on Wednesday after hosting a weekly meeting of her cabinet and facing Prime Minister's Questions.
The PM is then scheduled to attend a summit of European leaders on Thursday at which she is likely to press for changes to elements of her Brexit deal to try to get the support of Parliament.
Speaking on Tuesday, she said there was a shared determination among EU leaders to solve the Irish border problem preventing MPs from backing her deal.
European leaders have said they will not renegotiate the text of the withdrawal deal agreed last month, as demanded by many Tory MPs, but are prepared to clarify aspects of it.
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She might be right or wrong, but I admire the incredible strength and courage Theresa May shows all the time. Always level, not insulting. She is a model for all leaders. And Germany's Merkel is right behind her.Dec 12th, 2018 - 01:14 pm 0
Yes, she's caught in a near impossible situation. She holds her self well in debate, but her agreement from Europe is doomed.Dec 12th, 2018 - 01:39 pm 0