Tuesday, July 16

Influential Tory ramps up pressure on May: ‘You should go today’



A senior member of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers has called for Theresa May to step down immediately suggesting the influential group could set a timetable for her departure.

Nigel Evans, the committee’s joint executive secretary, said the process for selecting a new leader can’t start soon enough.

To be honest I would be delighted if she announced today she was announcing her resignation and we could then have an orderly election to choose a new leader of the Conservative party, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

I believe the only way we’re going to break this impasse properly is if we have fresh leadership of the Conservative party … If there was an announcement today by the prime minister then of course we could start the process straight away.

The executive of the 1922 Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday afternoon. However, another committee source said no decisions had been made, and that most of the reports about attempts to remove May have only reflected the views of one or two members.

Evans said the combined force of both the parliamentary party and the grassroots meant May should accept the fact the call for her resignation now is growing into a clamour.

May is safe until December from a binding challenge to her leadership, having survived a no-confidence vote last year. It was triggered by enough Conservative MPs writing to the 1922 Committee to request a challenge.

Evans’s comments came as the prisons minister, Rory Stewart, backed May to stay on, saying the problem was not her leadership but deep disagreement in the party on delivering Brexit.

A government team including David Lidington, May’s de facto deputy, and the Brexit secretary, Steve Barclay is to meet Barclay’s Labour shadow, Keir Starmer, the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, and others at the Cabinet Office.

Other talks are scheduled, but none are as yet due to include May or Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader is scheduled to spend some of the first parliamentary day after the Easter recess meeting the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The idea somehow that some new, fresh leader with extraordinary charm and nimble feet would be able to suddenly get the deal across the line is mistaken, he told the Today programme. It’s nothing to do with the individual, it is that people disagree deeply over Brexit.

There are limited expectations of breakthrough from the Brexit talks between government ministers and Labour which are due to resume as parliament returns on Tuesday.