Theresa May has been accused of “running scared” of her Brexiteer backbenchers after it emerged that the Government plans to send MPs away early for their summer break.
With the Prime Minister under huge pressure over her Chequers compromise plan for a softer Brexit, and amid claims that letters are being mobilised for a Tory leadership challenge, Labour sources said it proved May was “in office, not in power”.
The House of Commons is due to rise for its long summer recess next Tuesday, but MPs have been told of a surprise proposal to finish the current term early, this Thursday.
One MP told HuffPost UK that the plan was being “actively considered”, and a Whitehall source said “it might be possible”.
Hours after HuffPost broke the story, the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, tabled a motion to start the break four days earlier.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner was scathing about the idea.
Other MPs later piled in, including Conservatives, making clear they would vote against the motion.
Other senior Labour MPs signalled what the party’s position would be.
The idea of an extra few days’ summer break – on top of the six weeks already planned – could prove unpopular with voters, but it is claimed there is little Government business scheduled for next week.
A Labour source told HuffPost: “Theresa May sounds like she is running scared of her own MPs. She’s caved in to Brexiteers meaning her Chequers negotiation has not lasted a week.
“Now we find out she wants Parliament to rise nearly a week early so there can’t be time for a vote of no confidence. She’s in office but not in power.”
Eloise Todd, of the pro-EU group Best for Britain, said “this is a government that reeks of death”.
“The government cannot deliver anything right now. Theresa May is leading a zombie government.
“With the way this government are going, even an early recess on Thursdaymight not come early enough to prevent a total implosion.”
However, Tories claim that Labour MPs are in fact the ones keener on the early recess. It would not have a chance of happening without their backing through a Parliamentary procedural motion.
MPs would have to approve a special motion to allow them to break earlier for summer, but it could be tabled as early as Monday evening.
Allies of the Prime Minister can argue that there is nothing in the Tory rules to insist that any confidence letters are needed to be tabled during a Parliamentary term rather than a recess.
However, it is much easier for MPs to plot and plan their next move in Westminster f a leadership contest is triggered.
If Parliament did break up this week, there could be a major row over a planned appearance before the European Scrutiny Committee of the PM’s chief Brexit official, Olly Robbins.
The civil servant, accused by Brexiteers of sidelining former Brexit Secretary David Davis, had been due to give evidence next Tuesday.
The Commons has a light agenda next week, particularly as few MPs are expected to be in London.
The Cabinet meeting is due to be held in Newcastle, rather than London.