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Theresa May was nearly 20 minutes into Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday when the door of Andrea Leadsom’s grand Commons office swung open.
Out marched Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, shorn of his usual baritone joviality, followed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss.
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Last out was a pensive Ms Leadsom, who turned to Ms Truss as they filed down the wood-panelled corridor behind the Speaker’s Chair and said: ‘So that’s what to do. Let’s stay in touch on the WhatsApp’.
Later that evening, Ms Leadsom resigned as Commons Leader. It was the final plunge of the knife from the now notorious ‘pizza club’. The Mail on Sunday first revealed in November the cell of pro-Leave Cabinet Ministers which met in secret to try to stop Mrs May from diluting Brexit. Over boxes of takeaway pizzas, the group, which also included Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, would debate how to steer Mrs May towards a ‘purer’ Brexit – and whether to pull the plug on her premiership by resigning in concert. They even had their own WhatsApp group.
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Until last week, they had largely pulled their punches, with the only resignation from a group member coming when Dominic Raab quit as Brexit Secretary.
But on Wednesday the mood was different. As the group sipped cups of tea and coffee, Ms Leadsom made clear her anger over Mrs May’s disastrous speech the previous day in which she had raised the prospect of holding a second referendum – an idea which was anathema to Brexiteer Ms Leadsom.
Group - Speech - Cabinet - Position - Others
She told the group that the speech went further than what had been agreed in Cabinet and said she felt her position was untenable – although she stopped short of asking the others to follow...
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