David Cameron could face a no-confidence vote by his own MPs over his handling of the EU referendum, it has been reported.
The Daily Mail newspaper says “dozens” of Tory MPs are angry at the Prime Minister for his conduct during the campaign, including endorsing a Treasury dossier on the effects of Brexit described by Boris Johnson as “hoax”.
Senior party figures are quoted as saying Mr Cameron should set a date for his departure in order to avoid an attempt by his own MPs to remove him.
“If there is a narrow win for Remain, and he is still in office after June 23, the only way he is going to avoid a vote of no-confidence is to name the date when he is going to go,” one MP, speaking anonymously, reportedly said.
“If he says that, while he still has much work that he wants to do, he will be gone by the end of 2018 then that might head off some of the opposition.”
Though the MPs would be most incensed by a narrow win for Remain, the MPs are said to be looking for an end-point on the Cameron leadership “whatever the result”.
Under Tory rules a leadership contest can be triggered if 50 Conservative MPs write to the chairman of the party’s backbench 1922 committee.
No public running tally of the letters is given so their number could be at any level.
A similar plot to oust Mr Cameron was said to be taking place in 2012 and 2013 during the coalition government. It was reported in June of 2013 that around 30 Tory MPs had written to the 1922 committee to call for Mr Cameron to be ousted – though nothing ultimately came of this attempt.
Some MPs publicly dropped their bids by 2014, citing a change in fortunes.
In the last parliament Mr Cameron announced that he would step down before the 2020 general election; since then, MPs have been busy positioning themselves to replace him.
One noted potential successor is Boris Johnson, who has risen to renewed prominence during the EU referendum campaign after he backed the Out camp.
Polls on the state of the EU referendum campaign are currently mixed. Phone polls show significant leads for the Remain campaign, but others conducted online show the race broadly neck-and-neck.
Last week the polling industry descended into a row over which polls were more accurate – with YouGov, which produces online polls, saying phone polls include too many graduates.
The company’s former president Peter Kellner however warned that online polls, including YouGov’s include too many Ukip voters.
An analysis released by ComRes last year, which conducts both kinds of polls, suggested that phone polls tend to be more accurate.
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