Theresa May secured her survival in Number 10 after two attempts to bring her down in December over discontent with her Brexit withdrawal agreement within her own party. While Conservative Party regulation rules out a new confidence vote within a year from the last poll cast, public policy expert James Crabtree suggested Tory MPs may be able to oust her as fury grows over her acceptance of a new delay to Brexit. Speaking to CNBC, Prof Crabtree said: “In theory, they can’t have another leadership campaign until December but if half the Cabinet resigns en masse, or if half her parliamentary party say they want her to go, which they do, then her position becomes untenable.
“She’s a very resilient Prime Minister and she has hung on when we all expected her to collapse but I think time is finally up.”
Theresa May on Wednesday night accepted the European Union’s offer a six-month Brexit delay, pushing the withdrawal date to October 31 and definitively stopped the clock on a no-deal withdrawal happening on April 12.
The six-month extension to October 31 was a compromise solution thrashed out by EU leaders after French President Emmanuel Macron dug-in against a longer delay lasting into 2020.
But Prof Crabtree also suggested the Tory Party may opt to keep Mrs May in power until after the European parliamentary elections of May – which Britain is expected to fight to have British MEPs taking seats in the European Parliament in July.
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He continued: “You try to get as close as you can to the election, you fail but then you’ve run down the clock and there’s not going to be enough time to have a leadership contest.
“As I understand it, there is going to be enough time – they may decide to wait, let her carry the can for these elections, where the Conservative Party is meant to do dreadfully.
“But I still think they’re going to move against her sooner or later.”
Christopher Hope, chief political correspondent at The Daily Telegraph, has revealed Mrs May did not respond to questions about her campaigning at the European Parliament elections during a meeting with the press on Thursday.
Mr Hope wrote on Twitter: “The PM’s spokesman repeatedly declined to say whether Mrs May will campaign for the Conservative party at the May 23 elections.
“Number 10 has refused to say if Mrs May will remain as leader after June 30 if her deal is not agreed.”
Updating MPs upon her return from Brussels, where she met with the leaders of the EU27 before they confirmed their offer for a Brexit delay, Mrs May insisted the Commons could still ensure Britain quits the bloc without having to take part in the European elections.
She said: “Critically – as I requested – the council agreed that this extension can be terminated when the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified.
“So, for example, if we were to pass a deal by May 22, we would not have to take part in European elections. And when the EU has also ratified, we would be able to leave at 11pm on May 31.
“In short, the date of our departure from the EU – and our participation in the European Parliamentary elections – remains a decision for this House.”