Theresa May agrees to set timetable for her departure from Downing Street
Theresa May has agreed to set a timetable for the election of her successor as Tory leader, the chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee has said.
Following a meeting between Prime Minister and the 1922 executive at Westminster on Thursday, Sir Graham Brady said he would meet her again in early in June to agree the details.
Sir Graham said in a statement: "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."
The statement means that, yet again, Mrs May has resisted calls for her to name the date of her departure from No 10.
Sir Graham said the discussions with the Prime Minister were "frank", and confirmed his meeting with her would take place regardless of whether the Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes second reading next month.
He told reporters: "We have agreed to meet to decide the timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative Party as soon as the second reading has occurred and that will take place regardless of what the vote is on the second reading - whether it passes or whether it fails."
Sir Graham added: "It was a very frank discussion, I tried to make sure that all the views represented on the executive were expressed and we had a very frank exchange with the Prime Minister."
The announcement came as Boris Johnson confirmed he would be a contender when the contest took place.
According to the BBC, the former foreign secretary told a business event in Manchester: "I'm going to go for it. Of course I'm going to go for it."
The international development minister Rory Stewart and former work and pensions minister Esther McVey have also announced they will run and leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom has said she is "considering" standing.
Other possible contenders include former and current members of the cabinet, including environment minister Michael Gove, the interior minister Sajid Javid and foreign minister Jeremy Hunt.
The meeting between Mrs May and the 1922 executive took place amid a growing clamour from Tory backbenchers for her to set a date for her exit from Downing Street.
Conservative MPs blamed frustration at her failure to take Britain out of the EU as planned on March 29 for the heavy losses the party suffered in the English council elections.
They fear the party is heading for another drubbing at the hands of Nigel Farage's Brexit Party in the European elections on May 23.
In what was seen as a final throw of the dice, the Prime Minister announced on Tuesday she would be bringing forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill - required to ratify her Brexit deal with Brussels - in the week beginning June 3.
The move was intended to pave the way for a fourth attempt to get the agreement through the Commons and on to the statute book by the time MPs break for the summer recess, expected to be in late July.
However, while talks with Labour on a possible compromise agreement are continuing, it remains far from clear that she has the parliamentary numbers to get it through.
One possible hope for Mrs May would be if Labour ordered its MPs to abstain rather than vote against it.
However, the party leadership appears to be split on what course to take.
On Wednesday, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said they would oppose it.
However on Thursday, Jeremy Corbyn stopped short of saying they would vote against it, saying only they "won't support it" unless it met their demands.
"We've put to the Government a very strong position that we want a customs union with the European Union to protect jobs and trade, as well as trade access, and we want to protect the rights at work, consumer rights and environmental rights," he said.
"Our view is there has to be a relationship with Europe which guarantees those things and if that Bill doesn't do it then we won't support it." (PA/Reuters)
Pic by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire