Theresa May has been given a stay of execution by backbench MPs after agreeing to meet them next week to discuss her departure plans.
May as again managed to kick the can down the road on giving details and a clear date of her departure.
In yet another masterclass in delaying tactics, Theresa May appears to have pushed the crisis around her own leadership back by a week.
Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, has told its members that the Prime Minister has agreed to meet the executive of the 1922 next week.
Sir Graham had given Mrs May until 4pm today to set out a roadmap for her departure, but Mrs May appears to have convinced him to extend that deadline with the promise of the almost unprecedented meeting.
She also told him that Brexit progress was expected “in the near future”.
It means Mrs May is set for an extraordinary showdown with the 18-strong executive body where she could end up having to plead for her own job.
A No.10 spokesman stated:
Prime minister has no plans to step down before getting Brexit deal passed, says No 10
Theresa May has no intention of setting out a fresh timetable for her departure, Downing Street has signalled, with a spokesman insisting she is determined to “get Brexit done”.
The spokesman dismissed calls from Conservative backbenchers for the prime minister to step down, saying she had already “made a very generous and bold offer” to the 1922 Committee of resigning if her Brexit deal is passed.
“She is here to deliver Brexit in phase one, and then she will leave and make way for new leadership in phase two,” the spokesman said. “That is the timetable she is working for: she wants to get Brexit done.”
Earlier, May signalled her intention to fight on in No 10, using prime minister’s questions to compare herself to Liverpool football club making a remarkable comeback to win the Champions League semi-final.
Jeremy Corbyn, suggested May could learn how to do well in Europe from the Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, May replied with what appeared to be a scripted gag. “I actually think that when we look at the Liverpool win over Barcelona last night, what it shows is that when everyone says it’s all over, that your European opposition have got you beat, the clock is ticking down, it’s time to concede defeat, actually we can still secure success if everyone comes together.”
Her refusal to budge comes before a crucial meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, where they will decide whether to change party rules to allow another no-confidence vote on May’s future. The current rules say a prime minister cannot face another challenge within 12 months, and May won the last confidence vote in December.
These are the famous “men in grey suits” (now including women, of course) credited, in Tory folklore, with having the power to tell a leader it’s time to go. Earlier Downing Street said May would not be setting out a new timetable for her departure. In an interview with Sky George Osborne, who was sacked as chancellor by May and who now edits the Evening Standard, said it was now time for the cabinet to mobilise and oust May. He said:
“The Conservative party in 2017 didn’t want to confront the reality. Eventually the party has to confront the truth. It needs a new leader, a new agenda, it needs to win over supporters who have disappeared and make an appeal to urban, metropolitan Britain that has turned its back on the Conservatives.