Theresa May could be on the brink of a leadership challenge

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

  • Restless Conservative MPs are reportedly demanding a leadership challenge to Theresa May.
  • The party’s powerful 1922 committee must receive letters from 48 MPs for a contest to be triggered.
  • Committee chair, Graham Brady, has warned MPs to “be careful” amid rumours that a challenge could be imminent.

LONDON – The Conservatives are reportedly on the brink of launching a leadership challenge against Prime Minister Theresa May.

Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the party’s influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, has urged Tory MPs not to submit any more formal demands for a leadership contest amid speculation that a challenge could be imminent, according to The Sun.

Under Conservative party rules, a leadership contest is triggered if 15% of the parliamentary party submits letters demanding a change in leadership. This works out at 48 MPs under current parliamentary arithmetic.

Brady has told Conservatives to “be careful” before trying to oust Prime Minister May and has warned of the “consequences” of a leadership battle, the paper adds.

A leadership battle would eat up valuable time which would otherwise be spent on Brexit negotiations. The next stage of talks is set to get underway next month with transition and future trade relations on the agenda.

Many Conservative MPs fear that a change in leadership would likely trigger another general election and open the door to a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Brady was “ashen faced” at the prospect of a leadership challenge, according to one senior backbencher.

May has come under increased pressure from her backbenches in recent weeks due to her shambolic Cabinet reshuffle and failure to address concerns over the pressures facing the NHS.

Conservative MPs Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Nick Boles last week expressed their “disappointment” in May for not agreeing to a cross-party demand to take greater action to protect the future the NHS and social care.

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister,” Boles tweeted

The 1922 Committee must notify Downing Street within 24 hours if the 15% threshold is met.