HS2 could be crucial issue in next Tory leadership battle
Theresa May has vowed to fight off cabinet plotters as it emerged that HS2 could prove to be a crucial issue is the next Tory leadership battle.
The Prime Minister is determined to defy any efforts to oust her, and is reported to have told aides that she will not be bullied out of office by ministers or hardline Brexiteers opposed to her EU plans.
It comes as rumours began to gather pace that up to 20 rebel MPs were plotting to bring her down, with six senior ministers said to be sharpening their knives for a tilt at the top job.
And the controversial HS2 rail line could be pivotal in any leadership bid, with Michael Gove said to be prepared to ditch the multi-billion pound scheme should he become party leader.
Environment Secretary Mr Gove made an unsuccessful bid to be Tory leader following David Cameron's resignation in the wake of the EU referendum in 2016.
His decision to stand led to the withdrawal from the contest of Boris Johnson, who Mr Gove had previously supported.
Mr Gove recently suggested the money spent on HS2 would be more wisely invested in superfast broadband.
His pledge to scrap the line is certain to be popular among backbench Tory MPs, many of whom have been against the project since its inception.
Mrs May faces crunch Brexit talks with the cabinet at Chequers at the end of this week, with the meeting viewed by many as make-or-break time for the Prime Minister.
Jacob Rees-Mogg is among those to warn the Prime Minister that she faces a Government collapse unless she delivers the Brexit she promised.
Mrs May has reportedly said she will refuse to step aside unless 159 Conservative MPs – more than half of those in Parliament – vote against her.
A total of 48 MPs are required to trigger a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.