Theresa May's future in doubt as Conservative grassroots schedule no-confidence vote

Jack Taylor/Getty Images
  • 800 senior Conservative members are set to vote on whether Theresa May should quit.
  • The emergency meeting is the first of its sort in 185 years.
  • The vote is non-binding but would be incredibly difficult for the prime minister to ignore.
  • Conservative MPs and members are furious with May’s decision to delay Brexit twice and seek a cross-party deal with the Labour Party and opposition MPs.
  • The party is bracing itself for huge losses in the local and European elections.

LONDON – Theresa May faces a historic grassroots vote on her leadership in June as angry Conservative party members lose patience with her handling of Brexit.

May is set to address an emergency party meeting where up to 800 Conservative constituency chairpeople and senior activists will vote on whether she should quit as party leader and prime minister, according to multiple reports.

The vote will be the first of its sort in 185 years, illustrating the level of fury among Conservative members with May’s handling of Brexit. It will be non-binding, meaning that she will not forced to adhere to the outcome.

However, it would be difficult for the prime minister to stay in post if a majority of grassroots members vote to oust her.

May privately accepts that someone other than her will deliver the next Queens speech, which prime ministers use to set out the government’s policy agenda, the BBC reports.

The prime minister has publicly said that she will stand down as soon as Members of Parliament have voted for a Withdrawal Agreement. However, that might not happen until the end of the latest Brexit delay in October.

The Conservative party’s overwhelmingly pro-Brexit membership is increasingly furious with May after she moved to delay the United Kingdom’s exit twice and seek a cross-party deal with the Labour Party.

The party has also dipped in recent opinion polls, and is bracing itself for big losses in this week’s local elections and European Parliament elections which are set to take place in the UK later this month.

Conservative party headquarters has told activists to avoid mentioning Brexit and especially the European elections when campaigning for Thursday’s local elections as the subject is so toxic for the party, the Times reports.

A Conservative party activist who spent the end of last month campaigning in England said told Business Insider: “We are going to get decimated… We are absolutely f******”

The fury among Conservative MPs is showing no signs of subsiding.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned on Tuesday that the House of Commons would reject a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement by an even bigger margin than last time if May does a deal with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

Any deal that a customs unions with the EU would “lose more Conservative MPs than you gain Labour MPs,” Hunt said.

MPs have already rejected May’s Withdrawal Agreement three times.

Government ministers and Labour MPs have spent the last few weeks in talks about a possible compromise deal but have so far failed to make significant progress.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.