Theresa May’s has given 7 June as the date for surrendering her leadership of the Conservative Party. The overwhelming pressure from the 1922 Committee and the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom’s abandonment of May over the same old Withdrawal Agreement Bill obliged May to resign.
Outside No. 10, May reminded her audience that she believes in compromise—this directed at the long list of leadership contestants and the divided Conservative party. Subsequently, all the hostility against May has morphed into how dutiful and patriotic she has always been, with many noting the end of the days of “managerial politics”.
May will host US President Donald Trump in London during the first days of June. May still retains all the powers of Prime Minister until a new leader is confirmed. This process begins on 10 June and allows for all aspirant MPs to put their names forward, with supporting nominations from two other MPs. Through a series of MP votes the candidates are narrowed down to two. The final stage is for the Conservative membership to choose their next leader, estimated to be either before the summer recess in July or after a summer of hustings in time for the Conservative Conference on 2 October.
Although Boris Johnson has kept a noticeably low profile during these dark days, the two names that are anticipated to appear on the final ballot are of Boris Johnson, and a “Stop Boris” candidate, most likely Dominic Raab, both of whom are Brexiteers. The facts are Johnson is the Tory grassroots favourite; but behind the scenes, Johnson has been harvesting support and has already met with 200+plus Tory backbenchers. Any MP with a majority of less than 2,000 in a Leave constituency has no choice but to back Johnson if she/he wants to retain their seat. The Labour party’s news site “Labourlist” readers’ survey revealed that Boris Johnson represents the biggest threat to Labour’s electoral chances. Johnson needs the support of 109 MPs to get on the final ballot of two names, unless the 1922 Executive changes the rules and permit four names on the final ballot (an idea that has already been mooted), thus he would only need 52 names.
The Sun newspaper carried a story about a caucus of Remainer MPs (probably the One Nation Conservatives: Amber Rudd, Nicky Morgan, Nicholas Soames) attempting to block Johnson’s leadership bid by voting tactically for rival candidates. Johnson’s legal advice finds his exclusion would be in breach of Conservative leadership contest rules.
UK’s participation in the European Parliamentary elections is seen as a total failure related to not delivering Brexit. It is thought that only 10% of British Conservatives will vote Conservative, which will realise about 9 MEP seats. Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party were polling at 35% of UK voting intention. The results are due on Sunday, 26 May; the Brexit Party presents an existential conundrum for Conservatives.
Conservatives across the divide wait to discover what ideology candidates will promote in the task of ending the current Conservative civil war and delivering Brexit.