Theresa May looks set to agree her resignation timetable in just over two weeks’ time after a showdown with Tory MPs.
Cabinet ministers and the PM’s allies now believe there’ll be a full-blown Tory leadership contest before the summer holiday after her two-hour meeting with the 1922 Committee.
MPs on the powerful body gave her one last chance to get her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the Commons – stepping back from calls to quit now.
But after a “very frank” meeting, 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady revealed Mrs May is due to meet him again around the week of June 3 – “to agree a timetable for the election of a new leader.”
And before the meeting had even finished, Boris Johnson officially announced he’ll run for the leadership.
Sir Graham, the “shop steward” for Tory backbenchers, met Mrs May today with the 18-strong executive of the 1922 Committee.
Despite a split down the middle of the powerful group, they agreed not to demand an immediate resignation timetable.
Instead Theresa May will have until after the ‘second reading’ vote on her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
The Bill – the FOURTH vote on her Brexit deal – is due before MPs in the week of June 3, at the same time as Donald Trump’s State Visit.
But privately, government sources appear to accept there will be a leadership contest before the summer holiday.
A No10 insider told the Mirror Mrs May was still 80 MPs short of winning the vote.
The insider admitted the prospect of victory was slim and added: “If the Bill falls, everyone knows what comes after that.
“It’s the last act of this government.”
The No10 insider also dismissed suggestions the PM could stay and enter further talks with the EU.
“She doesn’t want to go to Brussels again – ever,” they said.
Meanwhile a normally loyal Cabinet minister said they want MPs to choose their final two leadership candidates before the summer break.
That way Tory members could vote in August while EU officials are on holiday – and have a leader in place by early September.
“They can take over in early September, have a few weeks in Parliament to get used to PMQs and things like that,” the minister said.
“You need to have a contest.
“If there had been a contest last time I think Theresa May would still have won but it would have exposed some problems and perhaps she would have had a different leadership style.”
Theresa May spent two hours meeting members of the 1922 Committee’s executive in her Commons office today.
A source said the meeting was cordial – but the executive is known to be split almost 50/50 on whether Mrs May should stay or go.
The group, which had voted narrowly not to force a leadership challenge, held a second meeting after Mrs May left.
But they did not reach agreement on booting her out. Instead she will give her until after the second reading vote on her ‘WAB’.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said it was “gutless, useless and exactly what I expected – really, really pathetic.”
But allies of the PM held little hope of the second reading vote passing – and that would mean an imminent contest.
Tory Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen said he hoped there would be a leadership contest over the summer and a new prime minister in place by September.
And he said the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill was the “last throw of the political dice by an increasingly isolated and beleaguered Prime Minister”.
Her former chief of staff Nick Timothy, wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper that it was “now beyond time for the prime minister to accept that the game is up.
“Her premiership has failed, and her authority is shot.
“We need to end this national humiliation, deliver Brexit, and save the Tories (Conservatives). The prime minister, I am sorry to say, must do her duty and stand aside.”
Sir Graham Brady’s statement in full
“The Prime Minister is determined to secure our departure from the European Union and is devoting her efforts to securing the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week commencing June 3 2019 and the passage of that Bill and the consequent departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union by the summer.
“We have agreed that she and I will meet following the second reading of the Bill to agree a timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party.”