Tory MPs who have lost patience with Theresa May’s repeated efforts to delay Brexit, breaking multiple promises along the way, are trying to organise an internal petition to change party rules and remove her as leader.
Mrs May was granted a 12-month period of immunity from votes of no confidence by the parliamentary party after surviving a challenge in December 2018, despite more than half of her backbenchers voting for her removal.
However, she has since broken her promise to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union on March 29th — issued 108 times at the House of Commons despatch box — and a subsequent promise that she would not countenance any delay beyond June 30th, leaving exasperated Brexiteers looking for a way around the 1922 committeeimmunity rules.
One of these appears to be organising a petition from ordinary party members under the party constitution to change the rules on removing leaders, according to reports.
“Page 71 (schedule 9) of the party constitution allows the constitution to be changed upon delivery of a petition to the Chairman of the Board with 10,000 member signatures,” one MP suggested to his constituency association chairman, according to The Telegraph.
“Has this been considered, as a way around the 12-month protection? There are easily that many members who would sign.”
The relevant sections of the constitution state that “the Board shall have power to do anything which in its opinion relates to the management and administration of the Party” — including, it is hoped, setting aside the “grace period” in which the leader cannot be subject to further confidence votes.
The clamour for Mrs May, who has been passing her Brexit delays through the House of Commons with the help of the anti-Brexit left-wing opposition parties, as her only a minority of her own MPs will back them, has been increasing, with European Research Group (ERG) chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg lamenting that it now seems that “the British Prime Minister goes across Brussels and takes orders from the European Union.”
Former Brexit Secretary and former party leadership contender David Davis also predicted that, having accepted a delay up to October 31st, “The pressure on her to go will increase dramatically”.
Mark Francois MP, another leading Brexiteer and ERG vice chairman, answered simply “resign” when asked what the Prime Minister should do next.
With the United Kingdom now seemingly locked into EU elections in May, years after the public voted to leave the EU, it is expected that plotters will wait until after the expected electoral battering before deposing Mrs May, so her successor is not tainted by the results.
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