Since last December’s vote of no confidence was survived by the prime minister, it appeared as though her job was secure for at least a year – with party rules stating that another challenge couldn’t be brought for 12 months.
However, after three withdrawal agreement votes fell in the House of Commons, her position became precarious once again, with the 1922 committee – the Conservatives administrative and executive committee – seeking a rule change that would allow another no-confidence contest to be brought within a year.
Yesterday, a meeting between the Prime Minister and the 1922 committee made her position even more precarious than that however and has set in stone the process for her departure.
After talks out the House of Commons with senior Tory MP’s, including party Chairman Sir Graham Brady, it was announced by Brady that the PM had agreed to a timetable for selecting her successor. A timetable that could see a new occupant in number 10 by the end of the summer.
The Prime Minister is expected to table another withdrawal agreement vote in the House of Commons in early June, with the bill still expecting to fall short of passing.
Should she be defeated she is expected to resign, paving the way for a Tory leadership contest which would see a new prime minister, likely within weeks.
According to senior conservatives, it is ‘inconceivable’ that she could remain in power if defeated in the Commons for the fourth time.
A note from Brady to the Conservative MP’s reasserts Theresa May’s willingness to get Brexit done, but the likelihood of her seeing the process through is increasingly unlikely.
Her exit is also imminent should the Brexit deal pass through the Commons, with an exit towards the end of July likely, when all the Brexit legislation is tied up.
The likelihood of passing this legislation has all but collapsed this morning, with the cross-party negotiations having ended, with Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn stating that no agreement was even close to being settled. Failure to agree a deal makes it almost impossible that the withdrawal agreement will pass, with it unlikely that any Labour MP’s will back the prime minister.
Given the impending exit of the PM, the chances of her gaining anything like unanimous support within the Conservative party will be slim, with Brexiteers likely rejecting the deal and hanging their hat on some future leader providing a more palatable deal.
With her exit impending, the start gun for the next leader has well and truly been fired; Boris -Johnson being the first out of the starting block. At a closed-door speech yesterday he stated his (largely unsurprising) intention to run to replace the Prime Minister.
Many other cabinet ministers are expected to declare at some point, with the likes of Sajid Javid and Penny Mordaunt expected to throw their hat into the ring.
Either way, should the prime minister pass an agreement through the commons or not, she has almost certainly delivered her last conservative party conference closing speech.