‘Cor­byn bound for No 10’ as Tories face 60-seat loss

The Sunday Telegraph - - Front page - By Ed­ward Mal­nick SUN­DAY PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR and Christo­pher Hope

JEREMY COR­BYN is on course to sweep into No10 after Theresa May failed to de­liver on her prom­ise to take the UK out of the EU by March 29, a ma­jor polling anal­y­sis re­veals.

The Con­ser­va­tives would lose 59 seats in the event of a gen­eral elec­tion, mak­ing Labour the largest party in the Com­mons, ac­cord­ing to an ex­clu­sive poll of polls for The Sun­day Tele­graph.

Iain Dun­can Smith, the for­mer Con­ser­va­tive leader, and Am­ber Rudd, the Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary, would be at “high risk” of be­ing voted out.

Ex­perts said the dra­matic fall in sup­port was down to anger among Tory vot­ers “at the Govern­ment’s fail­ure to de­liver Brexit”. Prof Sir John Cur­tice, pres­i­dent of the British Polling Coun­cil, said Leave sup­port­ers had been “drawn back to ei­ther Ukip or Nigel Farage’s newly launched Brexit party”.

Sep­a­rately, amid grow­ing calls for Mrs May to re­sign, Con­ser­va­tive Party lawyers po­ten­tially opened the door for MPs to for­mally oust the Prime Min­is­ter within months, with of­fi­cials ad­vis­ing the in­flu­en­tial 1922 Com­mit­tee that the panel could re­write the rules cur­rently pre­vent­ing MPs from mount­ing more than one at­tempt to oust a leader per year.

The ex­tra­or­di­nary move emerged as two past chair­men of the back­bench com­mit­tee de­clare, in an ar­ti­cle for

The Sun­day Tele­graph, that the panel could al­ter the rules that pre­vent back­benchers from trig­ger­ing an­other vote of no con­fi­dence in Mrs May un­til De­cem­ber, after she won a pre­vi­ous vote last year by 200 to 117.

Last night, Sir Gra­ham Brady, the cur­rent chair­man, con­firmed: “It is my un­der­stand­ing that the rules could in fu­ture be changed by the agree­ment of the 1922 ex­ec­u­tive.” He added that it was “less cer­tain that it would be pos­si­ble to change the rules dur­ing the cur­rent pe­riod of grace which was ini­ti­ated with the trig­ger­ing of a con­fi­dence vote on Dec 12 last year.”

An Elec­toral Cal­cu­lus poll of polls of 8,561 peo­ple sur­veyed be­tween April 2 and 11 – after Mrs May’s in­tended exit date – found that fol­low­ing an im­me­di­ate gen­eral elec­tion, Labour would be­come the largest party in the Com­mons.

It would win 296 seats against 259 for the Tories. Mr Cor­byn could then lead a govern­ment propped up by the SNP. Other Tories who face los­ing their seats in­clude Zac Gold­smith, Jus­tine Green­ing and Stephen Crabb.

Martin Bax­ter, the Elec­toral Cal­cu­lus founder, said: “Theresa May is dis­cov­er­ing why David Cameron re­ally held the ref­er­en­dum. It wasn’t to pla­cate his own Euroscep­tic MPs, in­stead it was to stop Con­ser­va­tive vot­ers de­fect­ing to pro-Brexit par­ties. That process seems to have restarted and the Con­ser­va­tives are be­gin­ning to suf­fer.”

Writ­ing in The Tele­graph, Sir John states: “Much of this drop re­flects dis­ap­point­ment among Leave vot­ers.”

Mrs May told MPs last month that she would stand down once she had se­cured the UK’s exit from the EU. Now she faces mount­ing calls by MPs and se­nior grass­roots fig­ures to name a date for her de­par­ture as it ap­peared that the UK would have to par­tic­i­pate in

elec­tions to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. Dozens of lo­cal Con­ser­va­tive chair­men are also now join­ing a strike against cam­paign­ing in the elec­tions.

Mrs May is hold­ing talks with Labour in an at­tempt to se­cure a com­pro­mise deal in­volv­ing a deeper EU cus­toms ar­range­ment. Down­ing Street said min­is­ters would now form work­ing groups with se­nior Labour fig­ures.

Writ­ing in this news­pa­per, Lord Spicer and Lord Hamil­ton of Ep­som, who chaired the 1922 com­mit­tee suc­ces­sively from 1997-2010, state: “Con­ser­va­tive MPs are re­spon­si­ble for their party. If they wish a change th­ese rules there is noth­ing stand­ing in their way.”

Sh­eryll Mur­ray, a mem­ber of the 18-strong ex­ec­u­tive, con­firmed that the is­sue was likely to be dis­cussed at the ex­ec­u­tive’s next meet­ing. A source said it would seek le­gal ad­vice on whether it could al­ter the rules to cut short the 12-month grace pe­riod af­forded to Mrs May, if the panel de­cided to act. The ad­vice would de­ter­mine if any changes would ap­ply only to fu­ture votes, to avoid a le­gal chal­lenge.

Lead­er­ship con­tenders are con­struct­ing campaigns in earnest. Mel Stride, a Trea­sury min­is­ter who backs Mr Gove, has shown MPs pie charts SOURCE: ELEC­TORAL CAL­CU­LUS

pur­port­ing to show that he would have broad sup­port across the coun­try. One MP claimed Mr Stride said the data showed Mr Gove as the only can­di­date who could beat Boris John­son.

At a US re­cep­tion on Fri­day, Philip Ham­mond said: “I think I may be the only mem­ber of the 320-strong Par­lia­men­tary Con­ser­va­tive Party who isn’t ... stand­ing or po­ten­tially stand­ing.”

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