LONDON Theresa May is under intense pressure to set out her resignation date today in a last ditch attempt to persuade Eurosceptic colleagues to back her Brexit deal.
The prime minister will on Wednesday address a meeting of Conservative MPs as parliament prepares to vote on possible alternatives to her Brexit deal, with many backbenchers privately expecting that May could announce a plan for her departure.
She has already said that she will not lead the party into the next general election but has resisted repeated requests to spell out when she will leave Downing Street.
A number of Brexiteers opposed to May’s deal, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, have indicated this week they are now likely to back the prime minister’s deal but others, including Boris Johnson, have indicated they would be more likely to if she set a date for her departure.
Writing in his Daily Telegraph column, the former foreign secretary said he needed “to see that the second phase of the negotiations will be different from the first,” which was widely interpreted as a signal to urge the prime minister to set out her resignation date.
Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons, also refused to back the prime minister staying on in the event she secured her deal.
“I am fully supporting the prime minister to get us out of the EU,” the cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding that whether she stayed after “was a matter for her.”
Two of Britain’s most-read newspapers, the Times and the Sun, have also called on May to stand down in the past week.
May invited key opponents of her deal including Jacob Rees-Mogg, Iain Duncan-Smith, and Johnson to her Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat, over the weekend. According to reports, key figures including Jacob Rees-Mogg told the prime minister the way to get her deal through was to tell colleagues when she planned to stand down.
Many MPs are now openly calling for the prime minister to quit if her deal goes through. George Freeman, May’s former policy adviser, tweeted on Sunday: “Im afraid its all over for the PM. Shes done her best. But across the country, you can see the anger. Everyone feels betrayed. Governments gridlocked. Trust in democracy collapsing. This can’t go on. We need a new PM.”
The prime minister shelved plans for a third vote on her Brexit deal on Tuesday but could bring it back to parliament on Friday. The government is in intensive talks with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party to back her deal, a move which could bring significant numbers of Tory MPs on board.
So far nine Tory MPs who voted against the deal in January have said they will now back it, meaning Theresa May still needs 66 votes before it commands a majority.
Source: Business Insider