Theresa May survives coup attempt after Conservative officials reject early leadership election

GettyTheresa May.
  • Theresa May survived the latest attempt to remove her as Conservative Party leader and prime minister.
  • Conservative MPs unhappy with her leadership had sought a rule change that would allow a vote of no-confidence within weeks.
  • Without the change, May cannot be forced out until December at the earliest.
  • However, party officials called for a “roadmap” for May’s departure.
  • More than 70 local Conservative associations have signed a petition calling for a new contest.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

LONDON – Theresa May has survived a new attempt by Conservative MPs to force her out of office within weeks after Conservative officials rejected a change to party rules that would have allowed an early no-confidence vote in her leadership.

The executive of the 1922 Committee, which represents backbench Conservative MPs, decided against an early contest, meaning that May is safe from a further challenge until December. However, officials have asked the prime minister for a clearer timetable for her departure.

The prime minister has committed to standing down once she has agreed on a Brexit deal with Parliament.

However, the chair of the committee, Graham Brady, said that Conservative MPs also wanted a “roadmap” setting out details on the prime minister’s commitment to leave office, even if she fails to ratify a deal.

“The committee debated this at length … and reached the clear determination that the rules should not be changed,” Brady told Sky News.

However, he added that the committee had “resolved to request that she sets a similarly clear timetable and schedule for her departure as leader in other circumstances so that there is real clarity for colleagues in parliament.”

Conservative Party rules state that the prime minister cannot face a no-confidence vote if one has already been held in the past year. May survived a bid to remove her from office before Christmas by 200 votes to 117.

However, some Brexit-supporting Conservative MPs had called for the 1922 executive committee to change the rules by altering or removing the time restriction.

If the time limit had been shortened to six months, as some members of the committee suggested, May could have faced a contest as early as June.

But many moderate MPs favour the prime minister remaining in office for another few months until she has had longer to try and pass a Brexit deal in parliament. Many were also concerned that the party would appear inward-looking if it held a leadership election while it was still struggling through a national political crisis.

The prime minister has already told colleagues that she will stand down once her Brexit deal had passed in Parliament, but many furious MPs have called for the prime minister to step down sooner.

She has attracted particular fury in recent weeks after her decision to hold cross-party Brexit talks with opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and for her decision to extend the Brexit process until October.

Brexiteer MPs want a new leader in place before October in order to force a no-deal Brexit.

The decision came after some Brexit-supporting members of the 20-strong 1922 Committee spoke openly against the prime minister.

Nigel Evans, the committee’s joint executive secretary, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday: “To be honest, I would be delighted if she announced today she was announcing her resignation, and we could then have an orderly election to choose a new leader of the Conservative party.”

“I believe the only way we’re going to break this impasse properly is if we have fresh leadership of the Conservative party.

“If there was an announcement today by the prime minister, then of course we could start the process straight away.”

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