- A failed coup against Theresa May has backfired.
- The prime minister now has the strongest backing among the voters since the last general election.
- Just 33% of voters wanted May to stay in office last week, compared to 46% now.
- The increase in support comes against a backdrop of an attempted coup, with Tory Brexiteers marshalled by Jacob Rees-Mogg trying to force a no-confidence vote in the prime minister.
LONDON – The attempted coup against Theresa May led by Conservative Brexiteers has backfired dramatically, with a rapidly increasing number of voters now saying she should remain as prime minister.
One week ago, 33% of voters wanted Theresa May to stay in her post, while 47% wanted her to leave, according to a YouGov poll for the Times.
However, after a week in which the calls for her to stand down, led by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg have dominated the headlines, 46% now want her to stay and 34% want her to stand down. This is the strongest backing she has received on this measure since the last general election.
The poll shows that May’s popularity has particularly increased among Conservative voters. A week ago, 43% who voted Conservative in the 2017 general election said they wanted her to stand down. Now, only 27% want her to resign. The proportion of Leave voters who want her to resign also dropped from 55% a week ago to 39%.
The shift in support will be a relief to Downing Street, whose spin operation has been in overdrive as the prime minister attempts to sell her Brexit deal to voters and sceptical MPs. She heads to Brussels on Wednesday afternoon to wrap up the final part of negotiations on the political declaration, a document which will outline the future UK-EU relationship.
The botched coup
Theresa May has been the subject of an ongoing attempted coup since she announced the shape of her Brexit deal last week. Jacob-Rees Mogg, chairman of the Brexit-supporting European Research Group of Tory MPs, announced that he had lost the confidence of the prime minister and his influential deputy Steve Baker followed shortly after.
Twenty-four Tory MPs have publicly submitted letters of no-confidence in the prime minister, short of the 48 required to trigger a no-confidence vote in her leadership. Others are believed to have submitted letters privately. Baker said last week that he was confident that enough MPs had submitted letters in order to trigger the process of toppling the prime minister. However, after the letters failed to materialise, he was forced to admit that the episode had left him “answering questions about my own credibility.”