- Conservative MPs meet to discuss removing Theresa May within days.
- May’s opponents want party rules to be changed to allow a vote of no confidence in her leadership.
- Executive chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs calls for her to stand down.
- More than 70 local Conservative associations sign a petition against her continued leadership.
LONDON – Backbench Conservative MPs will meet on Tuesday afternoon to discuss plans to force Theresa May out as prime minister “within a matter of days,” as anger over her decision to delay Brexit boils over.
The leadership of the 1922 Committee, which represents all backbench Conservative MPs, will meet to decide whether to change party leadership rules to allow a vote of confidence in her leadership before the summer recess.
Under current rules, May is safe from such a challenge until next December after surviving a previous vote late last year.
However, Nigel Evans, the committee’s joint executive secretary, told TalkRADIO on Tuesday that May’s “catastrophic handling of Brexit negotiations” meant she now had to go.
“My recommendation will be that we should say to the prime minister that she should now go as quickly as possible… and I’m talking about a matter of days now,” Evans said.
He later told the BBC: “To be honest I would be delighted if she announced today she was announcing her resignation.
“We could then have an orderly election to choose a new leader of the Conservative Party.”
One plan reportedly set to be considered by the committee is halving the time until May can face another vote of no confidence, meaning another one could be held on June 12.
The push comes as Conservative MPs return to Westminster following an Easter break in which the party has suffered a collapse in opinion polls, with one leading pollster putting the party as low as 23%.
May’s decision to twice delay Brexit appears to have badly hurt the party, with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party, benefiting from the exodus in support.
In recent days more than 70 local Conservative associations have signed a petition calling for a national convention to discuss the prime minister’s departure.
An early challenge to May is likely to favour a Conservative contender in favour of a no-deal Brexit.
Conservative Brexiteers want a new leader in place within weeks to enable them to challenge the European Union to either rewrite the Brexit withdrawal deal, or allow a no-deal Brexit in October.
A survey of party members by Conservative Home, published on Monday, found that support for the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has surged in recent weeks, with a third of all members now backing him to be the next prime minister.
Johnson is a divisive figure among Conservative MPs however, with reports suggesting moderate MPs are already co-ordinating to prevent his succession.
Friends of Johnson have told Business Insider that he would prefer to wait until after Brexit before a contest takes place.
“They’re not going to push for her to go,” said one Conservative MP familiar with Johnson’s campaign’s thinking. “They can’t see any advantage of her standing down now.”
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