Two British ministers touted as a potential caretaker PM in reports of a cabinet coup say they fully back Theresa May. Environment Secretary Michael Gove told reporters it was not the time to change the captain of the ship. And the PM's de facto deputy David Lidington insisted he was 100% behind Mrs May.
Meanwhile, the Brexit secretary said an election will become more likely if MPs vote this week for a Brexit option the government does not want.
MPs are expected to get the chance to hold a series of so-called indicative votes on possible alternatives to Mrs. May's withdrawal deal, but Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said they would not be binding. He was among the Tory MPs and ministers at talks with Mrs May on Sunday at Chequers, her country retreat.
Prominent Brexiteers Mr Gove, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg were also present. They discussed a range of issues, including whether there was sufficient support to hold a third vote on the prime minister's deal this week, a Downing Street spokesman said.
Newspapers claim cabinet ministers are plotting a coup against the prime minister, aiming to replace her with a caretaker leader until a proper leadership contest is held later in the year.
The suggestion is that Tory MPs might reluctantly back Mrs May's Brexit deal if they know she will not be in charge of the next stage of negotiations with the EU, but there are differing accounts of who the preferred candidate to replace her is.
The Sunday Times that Mr. Lidington, who voted Remain, is being lined up, while The Mail on Sunday said the Brexiteer Environment Secretary Mr. Grove was the consensus choice.
The prime minister has come under growing pressure to quit following a week in which she was forced to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50, and criticized for blaming the delay to Brexit on MPs.
The withdrawal deal she has negotiated with the EU has been overwhelmingly rejected in the Commons twice, and it remains unclear whether she will bring it back a third time next week after she wrote to MPs saying she would only do so if there was sufficient support.
Mr Gove said he was focused on getting the maximum amount of support for the prime minister and her Brexit deal. And Mr Lidington insisted Mrs. May was doing a fantastic job and he had no desire to take over from her.
Chancellor Philip Hammond told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday changing prime ministers wouldn't help, changing the party of government wouldn't help. He denied reports he was hoping to parachute in Mr Lidington as caretaker, adding: To be talking about changing the players on the board, frankly, is self-indulgent at this time.
Mr Hammond said he understood MPs were very frustrated, but one way or another Parliament is going to have an opportunity this week to decide what it's in favor of.
Former Conservative leader and prominent Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith told the BBC's Andrew Marr the disloyalty some cabinet ministers were showing to her was appalling.
They should be censured, sacked, or at the very least they should be apologizing and they should shut up, he added. The leadership row comes ahead of a week where the PM is expected to lose further control over the Brexit process.