May Facing Resignation Date Demand From Tories In Return For Brexit Support

1922 Committee wants more ‘clarity’ at showdown.

Senior Tory backbenchers will demand that Theresa May sets a timetable for her resignation on Wednesday as their price for backing her Brexit deal.

The prime minister will address the Conservative 1922 Committee, with party sources confirming that there is a “clear expectation” that she will signal fresh details of her departure.

Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady (pictured above) has communicated to the PM that more “clarity” on her future would be welcomed by backbenchers, one insider told HuffPost UK.

Former minister Tim Loughton said that May’s announcement of her resignation timetable had “become inevitable”.

“For somebody who has got a huge sense of public service … it’s a great tragedy that it will end, I fear, in the way it’s going to end,” he told BBC2’s Politics Live.

“I’m afraid ... that her position has become untenable. The leadership is not there.”

As party sources confirmed May would address the 1922 Committee, one Tory MP who wants her to quit said that her confirmed attendance was “a good sign” of a change in direction.

It is unlikely the PM will give a specific set of dates for her departure from Downing Street, but some MPs are optimistic she could go further than previous statements.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, meanwhile, said her departure could encourage eurosceptics to get behind her Brexit deal.

He and fellow Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg were among those who agreed to meet the PM at Chequers at the weekend.

“The prime minister has said she will quit,” Duncan Smith said at a Times event in central London. “The question is when.”

He added: “Sooner is on the cards.”

After a third of May’s MPs voted to oust her in December, she pledged she would not lead the Tories into the next election.

But in recent weeks, eurosceptic backbenchers and ministers have become more convinced that she has to step aside to let a new leader oversee the “next phase” of Brexit talks with Brussels.

Even hardened opponents such as Boris Johnson could swing behind her deal on Thursday, when the PM could put it to the Commons for a third time, if May agrees to signal she will be gone from No.10 once the UK has formally quit the EU. Downing Street said that May and ministers were continuing to meet MPs “from across the House”.

One option being floated in government circles is the idea of “de-coupling” the withdrawal agreement on Brexit from the wider political declaration on future EU-UK links.

The DUP’s position was still unclear, despite strident warnings by the party’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson that a one-year delay to quitting the EU would be better than May’s “prison” deal that links the UK to Brussels indefinitely.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who is widely regarded as a potential leader, appeared to soften his language on her deal, telling a Telegraph event in London there was an “appreciable risk” Brexit may not happen.

Accounts vary of what May told Brexiteers at Chequers on Sunday, when some of them raised the issue of linking support for her deal with her resignation plans. Some in the room believe she left the issue open.

As parliament prepares to take control of the process, May is facing the threat of more government resignations if she refuses a free vote for ministers on the range of ‘Plan B’ alternatives to her EU divorce plans.

But she also faces Brexiteer ministers quitting their posts if she imposes a whip on new legislation, called statutory instruments, which will reset Exit Day beyond March 29.

Meanwhile, government whips are actively preparing for a possible fresh vote on confidence, in case Jeremy Corbyn pushes the issue once more to exploit the Tory chaos.

Some Brexiteers are so frustrated with May that they have floated the idea of triggering a general election as the only way out of the impasse.

A Labour source told HuffPost UK that Corbyn reserves the right to trigger another confidence vote whenever it has most chance of success.

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