LONDON – Theresa May has been told by Conservative MPs that she has until 4pm (BST) this afternoon to spell out her resignation plans, or risk being forced out of office within weeks.
The prime minister was told by the chair of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, Sir Graham Brady, that she must now spell out the”road map” for her departure, following the party’s dire performance in last week’s local elections.
May is currently only committed to quitting once she has passed a Brexit deal through parliament – an event which looks highly uncertain and could take months. Current party rules also state that she cannot be forced out of office until December this year.
However, if May refuses to spell out the details of her departure plans today, then the executive of the 1922 has the power to change leadership election rules which would allow Conservative MPs to hold a no-confidence vote in the PM which could see her leaving office within weeks.
Allies of the prime minister have reportedly threatened to challenge any change in the rules in court, risking a deeply damaging legal battle between May and her own MPs.
The prime minister’s Deputy David Lidington also signaled yesterday that she would stay at least until the summer recess, meaning any leadership contest would unlikely be completed until the autumn.
The row comes amid growing expectation that May is about to make an offer to Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn to accept a ‘soft’ Brexit deal which would keep Britain inside a customs union with the EU until at least the next general election.
Talks between the two parties will continue today following what Downing Street described as “constructive and detailed” discussions last night.
However, hopes of an imminent breakthrough have been dismissed by senior Labour sources, who have told Business Insider that the government has yet to make a meaningful offer to them, which goes significantly beyond the government’s existing Brexit policy.
Leadsom ‘seriously considering standing’ to be PM
© Getty Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom.
The row over May’s future comes as her potential successors spell out their own leadership ambitions.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom said she was “seriously considering standing” to be prime minister.
Leadsom came in second place to May in the last race for Conservative leader in 2016 and remains popular with Conservative MPs and activists.
Other figures expected to enter the contest when it begins include Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid and a number of lesser known Conservative MPs.