Tory backbenchers in bid to remove Theresa May
The Chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee is understood to have received letters from backbench Tory MPs calling for a leadership challenge against the embattled Prime Minister.
As Theresa May’s compromise Brexit deal comes under more scrutiny from Conservative MPs, hardline Brexiteers have signalled their displeasure by lodging their names with Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 committee.
Under Tory party bylaws, 48 MPs have to lodge a petition of no confidence before a formal leadership challenge can be launched.
The number of signatures at any one time are not disclosed publicly, although it is believed that around 30 were lodged during a plot by Tory backbencher, Grant Shapps, to remove May last October.
Although the main pro-Brexit grouping within the Tory party, the European Research Group, has not presently backed any challenge to May, the group has called May’s Brexit plans “a worst-of-all-worlds ‘black hole’ Brexit, where the UK is stuck permanently as a vassal state in the EU’s legal and regulatory tar pit”.
Tory backbencher, Andrew Bridgen, told the BBC that he was “very, very disappointed with the offer that we’ve seen coming out of Chequers.
“I’m disappointed that so-called Brexiters in the cabinet didn’t pick up the cudgels and fight for a better offer.”
Cabinet member, Michael Gove, has backed May, although his name has previously been floated as a possible replacement for the Prime Minister by supporters of a harder Brexit.
“Those of us who believe that we want to execute a proper Brexit, and one that is the best deal for Britain, have an opportunity now to get behind the prime minister in order to negotiate that deal,” he said.
Although it is unlikely that this challenge will see May removed in the short term, it could spell trouble for her Brexit plan if the disgruntled MPs vote against the deal in Parliament.
It is also unclear whether the proposals are even acceptable to the European Union, after the rejected the similar “customs partnership” plans last month.
Labour has branded the plans a “fudge”, and has called for them to be put to a vote of Parliament next week.