The 1922 committee chairman Sir Graham Brady has been asked to hold the unofficial vote as pressure mounts on the Prime Minister to make way. The move comes after the pretenders to her crown boosted their campaign teams in expectation of an imminent contest. The proposal has come from Tory backbencher James Duddridge.
The Brexiteer hit the headlines when he called for Mrs May to quit immediately before her speech to the Tory conference in October.
Currently, the rules mean that because Mrs May faced a vote of confidence in December she cannot face another until this December.
But if more than half of Tory MPs vote against her in an “indicative” vote, she might be forced to quit.
It is understood that Sir Graham is now being lobbied by Brexiteers to hold the vote on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting of the 1922 committee which runs the parliamentary party.
Mr Duddridge said: “If we can have indicative votes on Brexit because of the way [Speaker John] Bercow is behaving, then why can’t we have one on the Prime Minister? I believe a clear majority of Conservative MPs want her to go.”
Such a vote would be a secret ballot, allowing ministers to vote against their leader without facing the sack. It is understood many Tory MPs have already pleaded with her to quit.
But a top government source warned: “They may want to replace her but the way these MPs are behaving they are in danger of inheriting an empty crown.”
Meanwhile, her possible rivals were getting their teams in place.
Bookies last night placed Michael Gove favourite to be the next Tory leader at 11/4.
He was closely followed by Boris Johnson at 4/1, Jeremy Hunt at 7/1 and Sajid Javid at 8/1.
Penny Mordaunt was placed as an outsider at 33/1.
Matt Hancock, Amber Rudd and Liz Truss are believed to be considering leadership bids as are James Cleverly and Dominic Raab.
A Cabinet source last night said there is “a reluctance among ministers to wield the knife” but added that he believes a leadership contest is “close”.