Theresa May set to finally quit to avoid humiliation of being kicked out

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Theresa May is finally set to announce her departure from No 10 today to avoid the humiliation of being kicked out by her own party. 

The Prime Minister spent Friday night holed up with husband Philip in her constituency home after her Brexit plans hit the wall.

She faced a stark choice between stepping down graciously or a brutal no confidence vote among Tory MPs to force her out. 

But Mrs May’s closest allies claimed she now accepted that she had become a stumbling block to delivering on the referendum.

A senior Downing Street insider told the Mirror: “We had to try to find a way to get this bill through. Clearly that’s not worked. 

“There are very few people now who know exactly what she’s thinking but she fully understands the position she’s in.”


 

Mrs May is expected her to make a statement in Downing Street after a morning meeting with Tory backbench chief Sir Graham Brady. 

Sources on the Tories’ powerful 1922 committee said they expected her to stay in place until June 10 meaning she would still be in No 10 for the state visit of US President Donald Trump.

The contest to elect the next Tory leader would kick off the same day, with Mrs May staying in place as a caretaker leader. 

Under that timetable, a new PM could be in place before the Commons breaks up for the summer at the end of July.

But some Tory MPs speculated that she could go immediately, handing over the keys to No 10 to her de facto deputy David Lidington.

Mrs May’s fate was sealed on Wednesday when Cabinet ministers joined a full-blown revolt over the PM’s Brexit plans.

Andrea Leadsom

 

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom stepped down, adding to pressure on Mrs May to do the same. 

Downing Street began yesterday by robustly defending the Withdrawal Agreement Bill which had split the Cabinet.

But the PM was urged by Cabinet colleagues to scrap her heavily criticised Brexit legislation.

She had a “frank” conversation with Home Secretary Sajid Javid while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told her it was a “step too far” to ask Tory MPs to back it when it was heading for a crushing Commons defeat.

In a sign of the chaos gripping the Government, just hours later they announced the bill would not be published yesterday after all. 

Senior Tory party sources warned Mrs May would face “much greater pressure” to go immediately if she tried to introduce the bill. 

But No 10 insisted work would continue on the legislation to try to get it into a shape that MPs could finally accept.

“We’re not daft, we know that in its current form its not going to be able to go ahead,” one source said.

“But there’s only one way to leave with a deal and that’s to find a way of getting the key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement through.”


 

Later, Mrs May told bystanders she was having “a good day” as she cast her vote in the EU elections near her constituency home in Sonning, Berkshire, with her husband Philip by her side. 

She plastered a smile on her face but kept tight-lipped about her imminent departure. 

Some Tory MPs believe that Mrs May could try to cling on even though that would mean facing a humiliating no confidence vote.

But allies of the PM played down expectations that she would try to desperately cling on to power. 

They also rejected suggestions she could try to renegotiate with Brussels one last time while MPs are on holiday next week, in a bid to postpone her departure.

“I don’t see how this PM can do that. She’s already tried. She signed up to this deal,” one said.


 

Mr Hunt, her favoured successor, appeared to confirm that she would still be in place during President Trump’s visit on June 3.

“ Theresa May will be Prime Minister to welcome him and rightly so,” he said. 

Mrs May had previously agreed to set out the timetable for the contest to replace her after a fourth vote on her Brexit deal, which had been expected on June 7.

But the deadline was brought forward with the announcement she was meeting Sir Graham in the wake of yesterday’s elections, in which the Tories are widely expected to be hammered by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

By announcing her departure before the results come out overnight on Sunday, Mrs May could deny Mr Farage the opportunity for too much triumphalism. 

Additional reporting by Amy Coles

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