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Tearful Theresa May forced to agree to stand down: PM out by June 30 at the latest

Theresa May arrives at the Houses of Parliament
Way out: Theresa May arrives at the Houses of Parliament for a fateful meeting with the 1922 Committee Credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Theresa May’s backbenchers have called time on her premiership and paved the way for a new Prime Minister to be in place by the end of July.

During an emotionally-charged meeting with senior members of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, Mrs May 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.

With the leadership election taking up a minimum of three weeks, it means Mrs May must resign by June 30 at the latest.

The race to succeed her is now effectively underway, with Boris Johnson confirming for the first time on Thursday that he will “go for it”.

Mrs May’s future was decided during an hour-long meeting with the executive of the 1922 Committee, whose chairman, Sir Graham Brady, described “a very frank exchange” between the two sides.

Mrs May was said to have had tears in her eyes as her request for more time was turned down by the MPs, who told her the Party had finally run out of patience with her.

She will meet Sir Graham and Brandon Lewis, the chairman of the Conservative Party, shortly after the Brexit vote, which is expected to be held on June 5. She will then “agree a timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party”, according to a statement released by Sir Graham with her blessing.

The former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith wrote that the agreement was “deeply unsatisfactory” because it was “vague” and lacked clarity.

On Thursday night Downing Street stressed that no date had been agreed for Mrs May’s departure, and suggested Sir Graham’s statement had been “over-interpreted”.

It added to fears among some Brexiteers that Mrs May could still try to wriggle out of the agreement. David Jones, the former Brexit minister, said he was concerned the agreement was not “watertight”, adding: “The fact is I think the parliamentary party were expecting a clear indication today on the timetable. We have not got that and I think a lot of colleagues will be extremely concerned.”

Several members of the 18-strong 1922 executive had pushed for Mrs May to be told she had to resign before next week’s European elections, when Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is expected to trounce the Tories.

If she reneges on the deal, sources in the 1922 executive said she would face a confidence vote among Tory MPs on June 12, which would mean changing party rules on how often such votes can be held.

Grassroots Tories are still due to hold their own confidence vote on June 15 at a meeting of the National Conservative Convention.

Dinah Glover, one of the organisers of the vote, said the leadership contest needed to start “straight away” with the Prime Minister stepping down before June 15 for the confidence motion to be withdrawn.

Mrs May fears that by saying she will resign if her Brexit bill is defeated she will give MPs an incentive to vote it down just to get rid of her.

She had hoped to buy herself a few extra weeks in office with her announcement earlier this week that she would put key Brexit legislation to a vote in the first week of June.

She tried to persuade Sir Graham and his colleagues that discussions about her future should be put on hold until then, having already agreed to quit if the Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes.

However they rejected her pleas, and Mrs May agreed that “win or lose there will be a timetable for a new leader”.

Members of the 1922 executive were in no doubt on Thursday that Mrs May would have to trigger a leadership race by the end of June. She would be expected to stay in office until the new leader was elected.

Tory Brexiteer: 'Incredibly unlikely' Withdrawal Agreement Bill will clear Commons

Mark Francois, vice chairman of the European Research Group of Tory Eurosceptic MPs, said: "Within the ERG, opposition to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is increasing, so given that Labour have made plain they will oppose it, it seems incredibly unlikely it will receive a second reading in early June.

"In which case, the Prime Minister will be out of options, and the executive of the 1922 Committee will almost certainly have to facilitate a leadership contest among the parliamentary party."

Number 10: PM consented to Sir Graham Brady's statement

Downing Street has said that Sir Graham Brady's statement was issued with the consent of the Prime Minister.

"The statement was issued with the PM's agreement," a No 10 spokeswoman said.

"The PM's focus is on securing our departure from the EU and we are working incredibly hard to build a stable majority for the WAB (Withdrawal Agreement Bill) ahead of its introduction.

"That is what we are focused on."

Consolation for May as she is set to outlast Gordon Brown

Several political reporters have pointed out that Theresa May will almost certainly pass Gordon Brown's record of 2 years, 319 days in office. 

If she manages a day beyond that, she will match the Duke of Wellington, and if she can hang on for a further month she will find herself in the company of Neville Chamberlain, another PM whose career didn't exactly go as planned.

Mrs May has currently served 2 years, 307 days, placing her 36th out of 54 on the list of British prime ministers by length of tenure.

The record-holder is Sir Robert Walpole, who stayed in office for almost 21 years, with George Canning at the bottom of the list on 119 days in 1827.

May 'would like to have been Prime Minister through to the next election'

Theresa May's ambition had been to carry on as Prime Minister to the 2022 general election, one of those present at today's meeting tells The Telegraph, but she has finally accepted that her time is almost up.

"Events have not turned out how she would have liked them, that much is true," said the source.

Another member of the 1922 executive disputes reports that Mrs May was tearful, saying: "Everyone can put their own interpretation on this but that is not an accurate description at all."

Ian Blackford: Theresa May can't even resign properly

The SNP's leader in Westminster Ian Blackford responded to the news of the 1922 meeting with Theresa May.

The only thing we’ve learned from today’s latest fudge from the 1922 Committee is that Theresa May is so incompetent that she can’t even resign properly," he said.

Inside the meeting between Theresa May and 1922 executive

Theresa May was emotional during the 1922 executive meeting, at the point where she pleaded for more time., the Sun reports.

One source in the room described her as "very teary". "Her eyes were very watery", and she had to blow her nose at one stage.

After the Prime Minister left, only "4 or 5" (out of 18) 1922 executive members argued for a vote on a rule change.

Alec Shelbrooke and Antoinette Sandbach argied against the vote, and most of the room agreed with them.

1922 committee statement

Graham Brady: 'frank exchange' with Theresa May

Sir Graham Brady "We have agreed to meet to decide the timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative Party as soon as the second reading has occurred and that will take place regardless of what the vote is on the second reading - whether it passes or whether it fails."

He added the committee executive  "had a frank exchange with the Prime Minister”.

The implication of the agreement between Theresa May and Sir Graham Brady

David Cameron's memoirs to be published in September

The wait is finally over.

The former Prime Minister's autobiography, which has been repeatedly delayed due to Brexit, finally has a publication date. 

Harper Collins has confirmed that his memoirs, For the Record, will be published on 24 September. 

According to the publisher, he will "explain how the governments he led transformed the UK economy while implementing a modern, compassionate agenda that included reforming education and welfare, legalising gay marriage, honouring the UK’s commitment to overseas aid and spearheading environmental policies.

They add that he will also "shed  light on the seminal world events of his premiership – the Arab Spring; the rise of ISIS; the invasion of Ukraine; the conflicts in Libya, Iraq and Syria – as well as events at home, from the Olympic Games in 2012 to the Scottish referendum. He will provide, for the first time, his perspective on the EU referendum and his views on the future of Britain’s place in the world in the light of Brexit."

 

1922 decision on PM's future imminent

The executive of the 1922 committee have broken up after holding a meeting with Theresa May. 

They are expected to announce whether or not they will change the leadership rules to allow for a fresh confidence vote on Mrs May leadership.

A written statement is due to be issued shortly.

Boris: 'Of course I am going for it'

Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, has confirmed that he will run again to become leader of the Conservative Party when Theresa May steps down. 

More to follow. 

Most Europeans believe that the EU could disintegrate in the next two decades

The Telegraph's Brussels Correspondent James Crisp writes:

Most Europeans believe that the EU could disintegrate in the next two decades, with three out of ten predicting war could break out on the continent, even though support for Brussels is at its highest for more than 25 years.

Three out of ten Europeans in the 14 countries surveyed in a poll commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank said that war between EU countries remained a “realistic possibility”.

The survey found that more than half of people in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Greece, the Czech Republic and Poland said the EU’s collapse was a “realistic possibility”.

Read the article here.

1922 executives meeting with Prime Minister breaking up

CCHQ summons all-staff meeting this afternoon

Theresa May meeting with 1922 executive committee for an hour and counting

Rachel Johnson poses in front of Change UK bus

Brexit minister: We are still preparing for no deal

Brexit minister James Cleverly tweets a video update following his first ministerial questions:

"We are still pursuing the policy of leaving the EU with an agreement but if that can't happen we are still making preparations for a no deal Brexit," he said.

"But those people who won't vote for either of those have got to be realistic that the other option is to revoke Article 50, which we feel would be a terrible outcome, undermine democracy and something we should avoid at all costs."

Andrea Leadsom confirms in Commons that Brexit Bill will have second reading in week of June 3

Nigel Farage: 'the only way is Brexit'

Holding an event at the Sugar Hut, the Essex club made famous by TOWIE,  Nigel Farage tweets: "The only way is Brexit!"

Here is a Brexit Party MEP candidate posing with Sugar Hut owner Micky Norcross:

1922 committee executive meeting with Theresa May about to begin

Brexit vote could be on Friday June 7

Nigel Farage about appear in Sugar Hut, the Brentwood nightspot made famous by TOWIE

Keir Starmer: Labour will oppose Withdrawal Agreement Bill if talks do not lead to a deal

Stephen Barclay: Second referendum is a 'bad idea'

Stephen Barclay said a second referendum on Theresa May's Brexit deal is a "bad idea" which ministers do not spend much time considering.

SNP MP Patrick Grady had asked Mr Barclay in the Commons: "Does he not see the glaring logic of giving this House four votes and not be prepared to give the population a second vote?"

The Brexit Secretary hit out at the "desire to overturn democratic decisions", saying if there was another referendum "we know if they get the wrong result it will be three strikes and yet again they will say they still aren't out".

Mr Barclay said  ministerial discussions when it comes to a second referendum are "always short because we agree it would be a bad idea".

12 days to go until Theresa May will have been in Number 10 longer than Gordon Brown

Liam Fox: Temporary customs union could last until 2022

Liam Fox said he does not believe MPs would accept the Government entering into a permanent customs union after Brexit.

Th International Trade Secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I don't think Parliament would actually accept the concept of a permanent customs union for a whole range of reasons [...] and I don't think it would be acceptable inside the Conservative Party."

However he said a temporary customs union could be in place for as long as until 2022.

Dr Fox said: "Of course we do have a temporary customs union inside the implementation period, that is already accepted, but one of the reasons that we embarked on this particular process was so that we would be out of these arrangements by the time we got to the next general election."

He also said the Government would do "everything possible" to avoid a no-deal border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and "uphold the Good Friday Agreement".

"In a no-deal scenario, the UK Government is committed to entering into discussions urgently with both the European Commission and the Irish governments to agree a long term."

Tory MPs anticipate today's 1922 executive meeting with Theresa May

Speaking ahead of today's meeting, Tory MPs said what they would like the 1922 executive to tell Theresa May.

Andrew Bridgen told the Press Association: "I would like to see the 22 give her a timetable to stand down.

"And, if she does not accept that timetable, tell her we will have another vote of confidence after the European elections."

Mrs May will meet the 1922 executive at 11.30am. They will then have a further meeting to discuss what the Prime Minister told them.

Liam Fox suggests temporary checks may be needed on Irish border

Party rule change could bring new confidence vote in Theresa May in June

Emily Thornberry: 'We'tre not going to vote for the Withdrawal Bill unless we have an agreeement'

Liz Truss: no deal better than revoking Brexit

Liz Truss said she would support no deal if presented with a choice between that and revoking Brexit.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who is positioning herself for a Tory leadership contest, said her "ideal option" would be to get a deal.

However asked if she agreed that the only way to stave off the Brexit Party was to embrace No Deal, she said: "If we face a straight choice between revoking Brexit and No Deal-ing, we have to No Deal. It’s a matter of trust."