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No-confidence threat against May recedes – for a few days

19 November 2018

5:56 PM

19 November 2018

5:56 PM

Is Theresa May about to face a vote of no confidence in her leadership? The Prime Minister is acting as though nothing has changed, to coin a phrase, focusing on selling her Brexit plan to business leaders at the CBI, rather than getting too bogged down with the internal problems with her party. But those trying to organise the move against her had been making noises all day that they may have the requisite number of letters calling for such a vote by this evening.

This doesn’t look like it’s going to be the case. Indeed, today a number of Brexiteers including Owen Paterson and Iain Duncan Smith have been holding talks in Number 10 along with David Trimble about a proposed solution to the Brexit deal that might prevent a leadership contest. The noises coming from that meeting are that the Prime Minister appears to be engaging constructively with those proposals, which means Tory MPs who might send in their letters are going to hold onto them for a few days at least. 

There is still confusion as to whether the European Research Group, which has been leading with the letters and pressure on the Prime Minister over the past few days, believed that there were enough letters ready for there to be a leadership contest this week or whether the announcements last week were designed to threaten the Prime Minister until she yielded on her draft withdrawal agreement. She is currently giving the public impression that she isn’t at all threatened, yet today’s meeting suggests otherwise. At some point, it will become clear who is really chasing who in this Tory game of cat and mouse.


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