Gordon Brown. Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP
Rebels organising to unseat Gordon Brown have put together a detailed timetable for his removal that would see him turfed out of Downing Street in the first week of July.
The rebels have been told by two former and one current member of Labour's national executive committee that the timescale for a challenge to the prime minister could be shrunk to as little as 23 days.
If that happened, a new prime minister would be in Downing Street by as early as 2 July and able to complete three weeks as leader before parliament breaks for the summer recess.
Rebels believe the truncated timetable will be key to persuading cabinet colleagues of the wisdom of joining a plot to unseat Brown. One of the reasons they believe some have resisted is the fear of a long, drawn-out process that would run into the autumn, with Labour ceding more ground to the Tories.
One rebel said: "This is the most significant week in the history of the Labour party."
The Guardian revealed today the rebels' plans for a round robin letter calling for Brown to step down. The news followed the surprise resignation of the communities secretary, Hazel Blears, just 24 hours after Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, said she would quit.
The rebels began consulting some weeks ago, and have been told by one current and two former party officials, all with expert knowledge of the party's constitution, that it would be within the rules to eliminate the 17-day process of soliciting supporting nominations from the process of electing a new leader.
Here's how events could pan out, according to the rebels:
4 June: Local and European election polling day.
5 June: Results from local elections; pressure mounts on Brown.
7 June: European election results expose the full scale of the electoral defeat suffered by Brown.
9 June: The prime minister is forced from office.
10 June: Labour's ruling national executive committee would meet and a new timetable would be announced.
The rebels have told the Guardian they think, and some senior trade union officials have even suggested to them, that the trade union involvement could be cut out altogether.
The advice of the three officials has assured the rebels that their shortened schedule would be "waterproofed" against legal challenge by the prime minister.
11 June: The parliamentary Labour party would meet and nominate their chosen new leader on the Thursday
12 June: Nominations for leader close.
16 June: Leadership ballot papers are distributed.
29 June: Selection of the new leader at a special conference held by the Labour party
2 July: Brown would formally resign and the new prime minister would be installed.
8 July: First prime minister's questions for the new leader
21 July Parliament breaks for the summer recess.
The whole timetable is 22 days shorter than the Tony Blair-Gordon Brown succession timetable, which was 45 days (10 May–25 June).