Tory MPs have triggered a no confidence vote in Theresa May in an attempt to remove her from power.
Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the party’s backbench 1922 Committee, announced on Wednesday morning that the threshold of 48 MPs required to trigger a leadership contest had been reached.
“The threshold of 15% of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded,” Brady said.
To cling on to power May will need the support of more than 50% of the 315 Conservative MPs to stay in office - 158 in total.
The vote will take place between 6pm and 8pm this evening and the result will be announced later tonight.
If the PM loses the vote, she would not be able to stand in the subsequent leadership contest.
Candidates for the leadership must be nominated by two Conservative MPs. If only one candidate comes forward, he or she becomes leader.
If a number of would-be leaders are nominated, the list is whittled down to a shortlist of two in a series of votes by MPs.
The final pair then go to a postal ballot of all party members, with the
position of leader – and Prime Minister – going to the victor.
In a joint statement the chairman of the European Research Group Jacob Rees-Mogg and his deputy Steve Baker said May’s Brexit deal was the reason she had to be removed from power.
“Theresa May’s plan would bring down the Government if carried forward. But our party will rightly not tolerate it,” they said.
“Conservatives must now answer whether they wish to draw ever closer to an election under Mrs May’s leadership. In the national interest, she must go.”
Several Cabinet ministers - including those seen as potential leadership candidates - have this morning come out in support of May’s leadership.