- Senior Conservative MPs will tell Theresa May to stand down by June today or face a change to leadership rules which could see her ousted.
- The prime minister has tried to buy more time by promising to hold a vote on key Brexit legislation in early June, but colleagues have little
- Talks with the opposition Labour party continue to produce no results.
- In a further blow to the prime minister’s near-vanished authority, her formerly loyal advisor Nick Timothy said called for her to step down.
LONDON – Theresa May faces a fresh bid to oust her as prime minister on Thursday as senior Conservative backbenchers demand that she reveals her resignation date.
May will meet the executive of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, led by Sir Graham Brady at 11.30 am (BST) where she will be told to quit within weeks, Bloomberg reported.
The group will urge May to resign before June 15, and if she refuses to accept that timetable, they could move to change the rules which would allow MPs to hold another confidence vote in her leadership.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who supports Brexit, said: “I would like to see the 22 give her a timetable to stand down.
“And, if she does not accept that timetable, tell her we will have another vote of confidence after the European elections.”
Current party rules mean that May cannot be challenged again as leader until December after a failed coup before Christmas last year.
Other MPs think Theresa May should step down directly after the European elections which are being held next week, and where the Conservatives’ failure to deliver Brexit is widely expected to see them heavily punished by voters, according to recent polls. A Survation poll this week suggested the Conservatives are set to pick up just 12% of the vote.
Ed Vaizey, a Remain-voting Conservative MP said May should “probably step down” after the European elections.
“She can’t keep banging her head against a brick wall,” he told ITV.
The prime minister has promised to step down once she has passed a Brexit deal through parliament. However, members of parliament have already rejected it three times and there is very little sign of May succeeding on her fourth attempt.
May moved this week to buy herself more time by promising to hold a critical vote on her Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which is legislation required to take Britain out of the EU, in the first week of June – the same week as US President Donald Trump is set to visit the UK.
Downing Street hinted on Wednesday that defeat for the bill could lead to her resignation.
Asked whether the vote would be treated as a confidence vote in the prime minister, a spokesman for the PM said at a briefing attended by Business Insider that “clearly the significance of this piece of legislation can’t, and I suspect won’t, be underestimated.”
There is so far little sign that a majority of MPs will back the bill. Nearly six weeks of cross-party talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, which were designed to find a compromise Brexit plan that opposition MPs could support, have produced few results.
Senior Labour figures are wary of Downing Street’s motives for holding talks, while the government has given no indication it is prepared to concede to Labour’s demands for a full customs union.
Conservative opposition to her Brexit plan also appears to have strengthened in recent weeks.
In a further blow to the prime minister’s authority, her formerly loyal advisor Nick Timothy on Thursday called for her to step down. In an article for the Telegraph newspaper, he wrote: “Her premiership has failed, and her authority is shot,” adding that her MPs feel “betrayed and misled.”