Is this the week the Prime Minister sets an exit date? Not if Theresa May has anything to do with it. May has been under pressure to set out a more specific timetable for her departure – regardless of whether or not she manages to pass a Brexit deal. The 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers last month decided not to change the rules to allow another confidence vote in May before December. However, after a very bad local election result and frustration over the Brexit process, the committee are meeting once again this afternoon where they will revisit the matter. There was talk that committee chair Graham Brady had told May to reveal a ‘roadmap’ for her departure ahead of the meeting – or be given one.
However, May has done no such thing. At Prime Minister’s Questions, the Prime Minister batted off calls for her to resign – even going so far as to suggest that she could still defy her critics. In the post-PMQs lobby briefing, May’s spokesman made clear that the Prime Minister will not be setting out a more specific timetable for her departure than her previous pledge to leave once the first stage of Brexit is complete:
‘The PM made a very generous and bold offer to the 22.. She is here to deliver Brexit in phase one, and then she will leave and make way for new leadership in phase two. That is he timetable she is working for: she wants to get Brexit done.’
This falls far short of what many Tory Brexiteers had hoped for. The question is: will the conversations that have gone on behind the scenes be enough to keep a majority of the 1922 committee on side? Many in the committee are worried about the long term ramifications of changing the rules (and what it means for future leaders) – they are only likely to take action to change the rules if May is acting in defiance of their requests.