AMBER Rudd is preparing to stand as caretaker Prime Minister if Boris Johnson is toppled by MPs over Brexit, No10 believes.
The former Tory Work and Pensions Secretary stunned Westminster two weeks ago when she walked out of the Cabinet and also resigned the party whip.
Since then the pro-EU independent Conservative MP has been a leading critic of the PMS over his negotiating strategy as well as Parliamentary tactics.
Boris’s advisers and allies now suspect Ms. Rudd is secretly positioning herself as a unifying figure who the Commons could unite under if he loses a no-confidence vote next month.
Suspicions deepened when Ms. Rudd voted against the Government yesterday to successfully block a Commons recess next week to allow Tory conference to go ahead without interruption.
The move infuriated Tory chiefs but delighted Labour.
A No10 source said: “Keep an eye on Amber. It seems pretty obvious now that she’s going to throw her hat in the ring to be caretaker PM if they manage to get Boris.
‘SHE WANTS TO GO OUT WITH A BANG’
“She has George Osborne’s backing for it, and he’s always up to something.”
A senior minister added: “I have thought for a while that’s Amber’s plan.
“It’s the only explanation I can think of why she would want to resign the whip as well as from the Cabinet.
“She has a tiny majority in Hastings and knows she won’t win her seat again, so probably wants to go out with a bang with No10 on her CV, albeit for a few months.”
Under one rebel plan, if the PM fails to win a Brexit deal by the end of the EU summit on October 18, a no-confidence vote will be tabled to force him from power.
Tory rebels will then ally with Labour and other opposition MPs to install a caretaker leader in No10 to negotiate an extension for a softer Brexit deal or a second referendum.
Ms. Rudd also this week publicly attacked Mr. Johnson to brand him “dishonest and dangerous” for his rabble-rousing language in the Commons.
And she also slammed Attorney General Geoffrey Cox for the same reason as she called for a consensus to be found in the Commons for leaving the EU.
Ms. Rudd told The Sun last night that No10’s suspicion is “total fiction”. She said: “I have had no conversations with anybody about doing this. It’s just not on the cards.”