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Backbenchers to demand Theresa May sets out her departure timetable

Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions
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Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions
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Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions a day after her Brexit deal suffered a second heavy defeat

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Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions

Members of 1922 Committee will threaten to depose the PM unless she offers ‘clarity’

One-Minute Read
Thursday, May 16, 2019 - 6:34am

Backbench Tories will tell Theresa May today: give us your leaving date or we’ll force you out within a month.

Reports this morning claim that the prime minister will be told by the executive of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories that she faces the prospect of a confidence vote by her own MPs on 12 June if she does not agree to quit before the summer.

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The Daily Telegraph says the move comes amid “growing unease within Tory ranks about the swift rise of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party,” The Guardian predicts a “tense meeting” while The Independent says “Tory grandees” will demand “clarity on her intentions”.

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, will meet May on Thursday along with other members of the 18-strong executive for talks about her future. 

The prime minister has already promised to stand down once her Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes the Commons, but Sir Graham will tell her she must quit regardless of the outcome of June’s vote on the bill.

He will demand a clear “road map” for her departure, and warn that if she does not set out her plans, the 1922 executive will discuss changing party rules to allow a fresh confidence vote in the leader every six months.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, former minister Owen Paterson says that the Tories could be “annihilated” at the next general election if there is not a clear Brexit by the end of the year. He accuses the current leadership of being “smug and complacent”.

May’s former joint chief of staff, Nick Timothy, joins the chorus of condemnation, saying it is “beyond time” for the prime minister “to accept that the game is up”. He says that the only way to avoid a “national humiliation” and save the Tories, is for her to “do her duty and stand aside”.

However, The Independent predicts that May will refuse demands to timetable her departure and “effectively ask for a breathing-space of another three weeks”.

Looking ahead to June’s vote on the withdrawal agreement bill, May’s spokesman declined to confirm that the prime minister would see it as the last act of her premiership if she were to lose the vote, but said: “Clearly the significance of this piece of legislation can’t and I suspect won’t be underestimated.”

The Guardian says this is a signal that May understands the vote is “make or break” for her future as leader. Across the Atlantic, CNN predicts that “we are very likely seeing May's last weeks at the helm of the UK”.

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