Brexit: May vows to cling on to power until UK leaves EU - despite growing Tory pressure to quit by summer

Backbench Tories have demanded a guarantee the prime minister will quit for a summer contest - but will not get one

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 08 May 2019 14:24
Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns tells Theresa May she should resign

Theresa May will defy growing pressure from Conservative MPs to speed up her resignation, vowing to stay until Brexit is completed – however long that takes.

Backbench Tories will meet later today, having given the prime minister an ultimatum to make clear she will quit No 10 by the summer in all circumstances.

But her spokesman insisted she would defy her own MPs, saying: “That is the timetable she is working towards – she wants to get Brexit done.”

With the likely collapse of talks with Labour, it means Ms May is attempting to cling on until at least the autumn, with the next Brexit deadline with EU not until 31 October.

The defiance comes despite another Conservative MP, Brexiteer Andrea Jenkyns, openly calling for her to resign, during prime minister’s questions.

Ms May was told she had “failed” to deliver EU withdrawal, cost the Tory party 1,300 “hardworking” councillors in last week’s local elections disaster and that “the public no longer trust her to run Brexit negotiations”.

The crisis will come to a head at a late-afternoon meeting of leading members of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, who – two weeks’ ago – demanded a clear “roadmap” to a resignation.

But, asked if Ms May would comply, the spokesman made clear she would not agree to go before Brexit, even if no deal can be passed in the next two months.

“The prime minister made a very generous and bold offer to the 1922 committee, a few weeks ago, that she would see through phase 1 of the Brexit process and she would leave and open it up for new leadership for phase 2,” he said.

Asked, by The Independent, if there was any level of pressure from Conservatives that could change her mind, the spokesman replied: “She has laid out the timetable.”

Graham Brady, the head of the 1922 Committee, met the prime minister on Tuesday, and will report back to its executive members at 4pm.

If she refuses to quit by the summer, the body will consider rewriting the rules to allow an immediate fresh vote of no confidence – which otherwise cannot take place before December.

The spokesman also could to say whether the Conservatives would launch a campaign for the European elections – after the confirmation they will go ahead – publish a manifesto, or whether Ms May would play a role.

He claimed the party’s efforts were “up and running”, on the basis that candidates had been announced and a mailshot issued to households.

In the Commons, Ms Jenkyns told the prime minister: “The public no longer trust her to run Brexit negotiations. Isn't it time to step aside and let someone else lead our country, our party and the Brexit negotiations?"

She retorted: “This is not an issue about me and it's not an issue about her. If it were an issue about me and the way I vote, we would already have left the European Union.”

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