Theresa May’s premiership is enjoying a stay of execution, it seems, despite the resignation of Andrea Leadsom as Leader of the House of Commons.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, will meet Mrs May on Friday – after the European Parliament elections – most probably to discuss the manner of her departure.
The committee met earlier this evening (May 22) to decide whether to change party rules in order to make a new vote of “no confidence” possible.
The chairman had been scheduled to meet Mrs May after the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, on June 7. There was a question over whether she would publish the Bill on Friday, as intended but it seems that is still going ahead.
The two issues – Mrs May’s resignation and the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – are linked because she previously said she would arrange a timetable for her resignation after the Bill’s second reading.
So reporters are suggesting that the meeting on Friday is an opportunity for her to go before she is pushed, and that she may announce her resignation in the fortnight between May 24 and June 7.
Tories would be keen for an early leadership contest, to give the new leader time to establish a new direction on Brexit before the end of October – the UK’s latest date of departure from the EU.
Here’s someone who has already announced her departure: Andrea Leadsom. And what a time she chose to do it!
Worse still than the fact that she increased Mrs May’s instability by quitting on the eve of the EU election and in the midst of a leadership crisis were the reasons for her departure, as given in her resignation letter:
It is with great regret and a heavy heart that I have decided to resign from the Government. pic.twitter.com/f2SOXkaqmH
— Andrea Leadsom MP (@andrealeadsom) May 22, 2019
Particularly interesting to me are items 3. and 4. – that government processes have broken down to a point that Brexit-related legislation has not been scrutinised properly or approved by Cabinet members, and that tolerance for Cabinet members who oppose the Government’s policy position has led to a “complete breakdown” of collective responsibility.
Commentators have been quick to point out the possible irony in the resignation of a woman who stepped aside to allow Theresa May’s coronation in 2016 leading (possibly) to Mrs May’s downfall.
Reactions to the resignation have been interesting – especially on the Labour side.
What exactly did Labour deputy leader Tom Watson think he was doing when he attacked Ms Leadsom over her timing?
He tweeted: “I accept that she may want to go but to do it the night before an election looks odd.
“It’s also a slap in the face to Tory party members who are working hard to get their candidates elected tomorrow.”
That’s none of his concern!
He should be pleased that the Conservative Party is deeply de-stabilised and Ms Leadsom’s resignation is a part of that. Perhaps his behaviour may be explained by his continued uncertainty over whether he wants a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn to capitalise from it.
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery had the right idea. His comment: “The Prime Minister’s authority is shot and her time is up. While the Tories are ripping themselves apart, our country is in crisis. The government has made a catastrophic mess of the Brexit negotiations, our steel industry is under threat and universal credit is pushing people into poverty. For the sake of the country, Theresa May needs to go, and we need an immediate general election.”
Probably most damaging to Mrs May is this tweet from Tory MP Craig Tracey (who?) as follows:
Just heard Larry the Downing Street Cat is considering his position..
— Craig Tracey (@craig4nwarks) May 22, 2019
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