Theresa May could face a leadership challenge as soon as she returns from China, as momentum to remove her from office gathers pace.

The prime minister’s faces growing internal and public criticism from her party over her mishandling of Brexit, and rumours are swirling in Westminster that she could face leadership challenge in the coming weeks.

A slow trickle of letters of no confidence to the 1922 Committee about PM since her poor election performance last year has gained pace after her shambolic reshuffle which proved to her many critics that she does not have the authority to lead her party or the country. Tory supporters nationwide are already using anti-May hashtags such as #dulldulldull to show their displeasure.

The damning content of the Brexit impact assessments leaked to Buzzfeed, that show every Brexit scenario will damage Britain’s future, with the problems exacerbated by a decline in skilled EU migration, have put further strain on her Brexit coalition.

A no confidence vote from just 48 Conservative MPs would be sufficient to trigger a leadership contest.

Privately, Tory MPs have admitted that the only reason May has not already faced a leadership battle is the lack of alternatives, and the possibility that she may see off the contest only to limp on as leader with even less authority. A prime minister in such a weak position would struggle to negotiate anything, let alone a topic as complex and fraught as Brexit.

Tory MPs freely admit a leadership contest would be unpredictable and potentially ruinous for the party, but an growing number have started to wonder if anything could be worse than the current situation of party and country adrift in increasingly dangerous waters.

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