Theresa May has bought herself another week to try placate angry Tory backbenchers after promising the chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee that she will bring forward legislation to implement Brexit before European elections on 23 May.
The Prime Minister will meet the executive of the 1922 Committee next Wednesday to try to stave off an attempt to push her from office.
It comes as the former Tory Chancellor, George Osborne, said Conservative MPs had a “responsibility” to remove a “lame duck” Prime Minsiter who cannot deliver Brexit.
1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady met the Prime Minister on Tuesday and briefed fellow members of the executive yesterday afternoon, saying Mrs May had told him the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be introduced in the House of Commons “a good deal sooner” than EU elections.
But with no sign of a cross-party agreement with Labour on Brexit, the government is risking a defeat that could force Mrs May into stepping down or calling an early election.
The 1922 Committee executive could seek to revisit its decision not to change Conservative Party rules to allow a challenge to Mrs May’s leadership this summer. Last month, the executive decided by nine votes to seven against cutting the period between motions of no confidence in the party leadership, from one year to six months.
The Prime Minister survived a coup attempt in December, and under current rules is safe from any challenge until the end of 2019.
Mrs May struck a defiant tone yesterday, telling MPs in the Commons she is going nowhere and insisting the deadlock over Brexit was “not an issue about me”.
Briefing journalists after Prime Minister’s Questions, a Downing Street source said: “The Prime Minister made a very generous and bold offer to the 1922 Committee a few weeks ago that she would see through phase one of the Brexit process and she would leave and open up for new leadership for phase two.
“That’s the timetable she is working towards. She wants to get Brexit done.”
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Tory backbencher Andrea Jenkyns had told the Prime Minister that she had “failed” and should stand down. Mrs May replied: “This is not an issue about me and it’s not an issue about her.
“If it were an issue about me and the way I vote, we would already have left the European Union.”