- Tory MPs wanted to force Theresa May out by June 12
- 1922 committee saves the day by a thin margin
- Theresa May’s woes continue despite the temporary reprieve
An attempt by Tory Party MPs to change rules to execute an early exit for embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May has flopped. However, backbench MPs baying for her blood have demanded a roadmap for her departure, dealing May’s authority a fresh blow.
Political Paralysis at Westminster
In what looks like a growing sense of political paralysis at Westminster, the BBC reports that the pro-Brexit members of the executive of the powerful 1922 Committee were keen on changing the rules that protect that Prime Minister against a fresh leadership challenge until December. The conservative backbenchers have therefore given Theresa May a narrow escape by rejecting calls that were going to allow a no-confidence vote on her leadership of the party within two months.
The powerful 1922 Committee held two meetings in as many days but while deciding by nine votes to seven to leave the rules intact but the committee’s chair, Sir Graham Brady, reiterated that the MPs want to see a clear exit plan by the Prime Minister, should parliament fail to back her Brexit deal in the next few weeks. Brady told reporters:
“Following the prime minister’s decision to set out a schedule for her departure as leader of the party should the withdrawal agreement pass, we seek similar clarity from her in other circumstances […] we should have a clear roadmap forward.”
MPs Rejected May’s Bid For A Third Time Last Month
The decision on Wednesday to leave the rules unchanged gave May a reprieve as she continues to face unprecedented pressure from within her party to quit over her handling of Brexit. May had already pledged to quit almost immediately if the withdrawal agreement won a majority, though that promise failed to win over enough Tory critics to prevent the deal being rejected by MPs for a third time last month.
There is growing fear that local and European elections slated for later this month could become disastrous. The Campaign for Conservative Democracy chairman John Strafford stated:
“No change will further alienate the parliamentary party from the grassroots.”
Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote by Eurosceptic Conservatives on December 12, 2018, by 200 to 117 votes. and according to the current rules, she has a twelve-month grace period before any similar challenge can be mounted.
Several Tory MPs had called for the period to be reduced to six months, which would have brought forward the date for the next challenge to June 12, 2019. The MPs had argued that another confidence vote should be called if as many as 30 to 40 percent of MPs wanted it. They were also worried about showing further party divisions ahead of local elections next week and the potential European elections on 23 May.