Hard Brexiteers’ fresh bid to oust PM falls flat
HARDLINE Brexiteers’ bid to topple Theresa May following her agreement to work with Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit collapsed last night.
At a stormy meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee, some of the 28 ‘Spartan’ Tory MPs who refused to vote for Mrs May’s Brexit deal attempted to orchestrate a secret vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership.
But committee chairman Sir Graham Brady refused to allow it, warning it would be destabilising for the Conservative Party.
After the meeting, one angry backbencher, James Duddridge, declared it was ‘open season’ on Mrs May and encouraged colleagues to put in letters to Sir Graham stating they had no confidence in her.
However the plotters were quickly reminded that, following last year’s failed coup, there is no official mechanism to unseat Mrs May until December.
Other Tories poured scorn on their attempts, saying that the party should unite ahead of next month’s local elections.
Amid significant anger over Mrs May’s willingness to talk to the Labour leader, Sir Graham said he would keep her ‘informed’ of the mood of the party. Yesterday, there were reports that some rank and file Tory members were cutting up their membership cards in protest at the move.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Brexiteers ambushed Mrs May, with a number criticising her decision to meet Mr Corbyn.
Lee Rowley said that last week she called the Labour leader ‘the biggest threat to our standing in the world, to our defence, and to our economy’ and asked: ‘In her judgment what now qualifies him for involvement in Brexit?’
Former Brexit minister David Jones asked: ‘Does it remain the position of the Prime Minister
that the leader of the opposition is not fit to govern?’
Julian Lewis asked why, after talking about No Deal being better than a bad deal, Mrs May had approached Labour when most of her party wanted to leave without a deal.
The usually loyal Caroline Johnson spoke against what she called ‘the risk of letting down the country and ushering in a Marxist, anti-Semite-led government’.
After the 1922 Committee meeting, Mr Duddridge said: ‘In my view, two-thirds of the parliamentary party in a secret vote would vote against her.’
Fellow Spartan Mark Francois said he would put in a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister to Sir Graham today.
Business minister Claire Perry said of Mr Francois: ‘Mark has been very angry about Brexit for a very long time.
‘Mark and his friends tried hard to defenestrate the Prime Minister a while ago and under the terms of our party there is not another opportunity to do so.
‘The Prime Minister was very clear at the 1922 Committee last week that if people wanted her to go, she was prepared to resign after the first stage of this deal had been passed.
‘That was not enough for some. When you see that you think, “Well, look, there are some people for whom there is no compromise there for Brexit” so you have to focus on getting Brexit through.’
Steve Baker, of the hardline European Research Group, told the New Statesman: ‘I think we may be on the cusp of the destruction of both main parties.’
Conservative members shared images of themselves on social media cutting up their party cards. Pub owner Adam Brooks from Essex, said the Labour leader ‘has no right to be involved’ in Brexit talks and Mrs May has ‘killed’ the Conservative Party.
Lawrence Gartshore, 16, from Warwick, said: ‘This emphatic capitulation by May was really the final straw.’