Shortly after Theresa May announced she would not stand down as Prime Minister tonight, Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom resigned.
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Leadsom said she cannot commit fully to her duty as Leader of the House tomorrow “to announce a Bill with new elements that I fundamentally oppose.” She said she no longer believes in the government’s strategy to deliver on the result of the referendum.
Theresa May meanwhile, has managed to cling on for another day despite her stickiest day in post yet – involving cabinet machinations, calls from all sides of her party for her resignation, and a congregation of weeping and wailing by the 1922 Committee.
Her latest bid to get Brexit over the line – the so called New Brexit Deal – backfired spectacularly, triggering yet another day of febrile rumours and secret meetings of Conservative MPs. Leadership contenders Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid, among other cabinet members, allegedly tried to meet Theresa May this afternoon – to tell her the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is dead. However by this evening reports emerged that May had refused to meet with her cabinet colleagues and the Chief Whip had declared to the 1922 Committee that she will not be resigning this evening.
The sentiment in the party and cabinet is clear.
Conservative MP Tom Tugenhadt wrote in the Financial Times:
“Leadership matters; it has been absent for too long. This can only change with a new prime minister…”
Various unnamed cabinet ministers said they are waiting for May to work out that her deal is going nowhere and stand down.
The BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg reported that another cabinet minister said it’s the “end of the line” for Theresa May.
But as reports emerged that May wouldn’t meet with her cabinet colleagues the speculation of her standing down abated. Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “The sofa is up against the door, she’s not leaving.”
It’s becoming increasingly likely that May’s New(ish) Brexit Deal will not even make it to Parliament. She intended to bring it to the Commons in early June, but the immediate reaction was so vehement that it’s clear the deal would lose in a landslide.
Despite offering countless concessions to the various factions opposed to the deal (second referendum for Remainers, workers rights for Labour, greater say to Northern Ireland for the DUP) no one was convinced. Whatever concession designed to win over one group lost her the support of another – and in trying to give something to everyone she managed to please no one.
It was a miscalculation of such grave proportions that it might finally be the move that costs her her premiership.
Theresa May is now set to meet with Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, on Friday. Depending on the outcome of that meeting, the 1922 Committee may decide to change their rules allowing for another no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister. Currently, the party can’t hold a vote of no confidence in Theresa May until December. If the committee agrees on a rule change they can hold one much sooner, forcing May out of office by June.
Number 10 has said she has no intentions of resigning the day before the European elections. The results of these elections won’t emerge until Sunday and Monday, but the Tories are facing a complete mauling. If Theresa May is likely to go anytime, it could be on Friday – taking the chance to walk without being ousted, while also taking the hit of the European electoral disaster facing the party.
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