Theresa May is expected to set out when she will quit Number 10 after a Cabinet revolt over her Brexit plan.
The Prime Minister will meet the leader of backbench Conservatives, Sir Graham Brady, on Friday to discuss her future after her authority was left in tatters following the backlash against her “new Brexit deal”.
Senior ministers set out their concerns in “frank” talks with the beleaguered premier as Downing Street delayed publication of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) which sets out her Brexit plan in law.
The Prime Minister’s private meeting with Sir Graham, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, could be the moment that Mrs May sets the date for her exit from Downing Street.
What has May said about her departure?
The Prime Minister initially quelled the calls to resign as far back as March, saying she would leave once her Brexit deal has passed.
Addressing the 1922 Committee at the time, Mrs May said: “I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations – and I won’t stand in the way of that.
“But we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit. I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.
“I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty – to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit.”
But as the weeks ticked by and there was little sign her deal would be passed, frustration grew within her party once again.
On May 16, the prime minister was forced to agree to stand down within weeks so the Conservatives can elect a new leader before Parliament’s summer recess.
Mrs May agreed that she will announce the date of her departure after a vote on her Brexit bill in the first week of June, regardless of whether it is passed by MPs.
Now she may not last that long. Support for Mrs May from some members of her Cabinet evaporated after ministers were shown a draft version of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which explicitly laid out a path to a legally-binding second referendum.
What happens when she steps down?
When Mrs May does step down there will be a leadership contest.
Usually the departing Prime Minister stays on in a “caretaker” role after resigning to give the party long enough to pick a new leader. That’s what David Cameron did in 2016 after the EU referendum in 2016.
If several names are put forward to lead the party, then a vote is held among Conservative MPs using the first past the post system to whittle down the field with the candidate with the fewest votes removed. Another ballot among Conservative lawmakers is then held until two candidates remain.
The final two nominees are then put to a ballot of the wider Conservative Party membership with the winner named the new leader.
Following David Cameron’s decision to step down as prime minister and Conservative leader after the EU referendum in 2016, five candidates put their names forward.
The field was narrowed to Mrs May and Ms Leadsom but she pulled out of the race before members voted, leaving May to become leader unopposed.
What happens next?
An announcement outside Number 10 could come after Mrs May holds a meeting with Sir Graham, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, at which it will be made clear that if she does not resign she will be removed within days.
Mrs May could announce her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party as soon as Friday, allowing a contest to elect her successor to begin early next month.
When Mrs May does resign, a Tory leadership contest is expected to begin on Monday, June 10, avoiding a clash with President Donald Trump’s State visit and D-Day commemorations the preceding week.
Who will replace Theresa May?
Here are the latest odds on who could become the next Conservative Prime Minister when Theresa May steps down.
Will there be a general election?
Probably not, as there is no obligation for the new leader to call an election.
Mrs May didn’t call an election immediately when she was installed as prime minister and had repeatedly insisted she would not seek a general election before the scheduled 2020 poll.
She changed her mind in April 2017, claiming that divisions at Westminster risked hampering the Brexit negotiations.
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