Tory MPs plan to rewrite party rules to oust Theresa May in June
Sir Graham Brady - Image credit: PA Images
Conservative MPs are to tell Theresa May that she must name her exit date or face being ousted by mid-June over her handling of Brexit.
The Telegraph reports that Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, will tell May she must spell out her departure plans or face a change in Conservative Party rules that would make it easier to remove her.
Under current Tory rules, May – who won a confidence ballot before Christmas last year – cannot be challenged again until December.
She has told her MPs that she will quit if her Brexit deal is passed in the Commons, allowing someone else to lead the second round of negotiations with the EU.
But the six-strong executive of the 1922 committee, which is meeting on Tuesday, is expected to agree that the minimum wait between confidence votes should be halved to just six months.
That would mean May could be challenged after 12 June if 30 per cent of Tory MPs – or 94 of the total – demand another confidence vote.
One MP told the paper: “Graham will go and see her and say, ‘We are going to change the rules and therefore the six-month period expires on 12 June so you have got till then’.”
The move comes amid mounting grassroots anger over the Easter recess at May's handling of Brexit.
Polls suggest the Tories are on course for disaster in the European elections on 23 May, which the UK is now on course to take part in after the Prime Minister asked Brussels for a fresh delay to Britain's departure from the bloc.
MPs have also expressed fury at May's decision to hold talks on a possible deal with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Those talks will get underway again on Tuesday, with a government team including May's de facto deputy, David Lidington, and Brexit secretary Steve Barclay meeting shadow business secretary Rebecca-Long Bailey and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer at the Cabinet Office.
The talks were paused before the Easter recess, with Corbyn saying last week that the UK Government "doesn’t appear to be shifting" its red lines following Labour demands to agree membership of a customs union with the EU.
The Cabinet will also meet on Tuesday morning amid reports that May will be told to put her Brexit deal – defeated three times already – before Parliament for a fourth time to try in a bid to avoid the European elections.