Theresa May plans early summer break for MPs to 'avoid a leadership challenge'

Move would kill off attempt by hard Brexit-supporting Tories to force an immediate vote of no confidence

MPs are now expected to leave Westminster on Thursday – instead of next Tuesday
MPs are now expected to leave Westminster on Thursday – instead of next Tuesday

Theresa May is planning to send MPs on their summer break early, prompting accusations she is panicking about a leadership challenge.

MPs are expected to pass a motion on Tuesday to bring forward their six-week recess, so they would leave Westminster on Thursday – instead of next Tuesday.

The move would kill off any hopes that hard Brexit-supporting Tories have of forcing an immediate vote of no confidence in her leadership of the Conservative party.

The Brexiteers accept they would need several days for the contest to be staged – even if they succeed in collecting the 48 signatures required to trigger it.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, told The Independent: “With the Tories languishing in a state of civil war, Theresa May is running scared of a leadership challenge with plans for an early recess."

The move to bring forward the recess emerged as a beleaguered Ms May turned to Tory party chairman for support for her Chequers plan, going over the heads of her MPs.

They have been offered personal briefings in Downing Street – or even to listen in to the prime minister on a conference call.

Two separate sources told The Independent that the plan for an early summer holiday is being hatched, although it is understood that Andrea Leadsom, the Commons Leader, has yet to back it.

Ms Leadsom is believed to fear a backlash if MPs extend their already lengthy summer break, particularly if it is viewed as an attempt to avoid backbench plotting.

No 10 will argue that little has been lost, because Friday is a non-sitting day – and the cabinet is heading to the North East of England on Monday for an away day.

No legislation is due to be debated next week, but an early departure would cancel committee hearings and prevent MPs summoning ministers for urgent questions.

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