Theresa May must 'name a date' for her departure, says former Tory chairman
Theresa May must “name a date” at which she plans to stand down or risk being toppled by her MPs, a Conservative former chairman has said.
Grant Shapps argued the Prime Minister should make clear she has no intention of fighting the next election “before it is too late”.
It comes after reports that Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, is worried he might soon have enough MP letters to trigger a leadership contest.
In recent weeks prominent figures like Nick Boles and Nicholas Soames have hit out at the Prime Minister and accused the Government of suffering from a lack of ideas.
But Mrs May has insisted she is going nowhere and has suggested she plans to fight the next election expected in 2022.
Former international development minister Mr Shapps - who has spoken publicly in the past about the need to ditch Mrs May - wrote in the Mail on Sunday that more Tories were handing in their letters over the weekend.
If 48 are sent in to the committee - which amounts to 15% of the parliamentary party - it will trigger a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister.
Mr Shapps said Mrs May must “wrest back control of that timetable” and “do so before it is too late”.
He added: “Mrs May should name a date. In truth, it doesn’t need to be an exact day.
“Merely making it clear that she won’t fight the next Election as leader would utterly transform the political landscape and her premiership.”
And he said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot continue to muddle along like this...
“Acknowledging that Mrs May fighting the next election is off the table would allow an open and healthy examination of the leadership potential of others…
“The Prime Minister still has the opportunity to write her own timetable. By speaking up now she can regain the initiative, put herself back in control of her Cabinet and achieve some of her wider programme.”
SEX PEST CHALLENGE
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reports that No 10 is worried a tough set of new rules to tackle sex-pest MPs could anger backbenches and hasten a leadership challenge.
Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom is penning the new regime in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal that engulfed Westminster.
A senior government source told the paper: “There was a meeting where they agonised about the letters [that would trigger a no confidence vote]...
“Leadsom is very keen to be as robust as possible about the complaints procedure and the ’22 is extremely jumpy about this.
“They are clear that it can’t be too hard on MPs because if it looks like a witch-hunt they are going to get more letters coming in asking for the PM to go. It could be the end of her."
And the paper says at least one Cabinet minister is considering a "suicide bombing" resignation - but will only do so if they are joined by colleagues.