The only question being asked that matters in British – nay European – politics tonight: does Mrs May survive?
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) October 4, 2017
Lots of talk going on in Tory circles tonight over whether TMay should continue in post or whether she should be replaced.
The first senior figure to go on the record was the former cabinet minister under Cameron, Ed Vaizey. He said:-
“..“I think there will be quite a few people who will now be pretty firmly of the view that she should resign,” the former culture minister, who was sacked when May took over in 2016 after six years in government, told the BBC.
“The Tory party conference was a great opportunity to reboot the party and therefore reboot the country to give a clear sense of direction and that did not happen, and so, yes, I am concerned.”
The big issue is the timescale. If there is to be a new leader by Christmas then the process of trying to oust TMay needs to start now.
The overwhelming driver of this is not that the PM had a bit of cough yesterday or some letters fell off a sign but that the polling suggests that Labour under Corbyn appears to be getting some traction.
As I pointed out last night there are two possible processes which happen sequentially. First Mrs. May needs to quit or be ousted. Then a leadership contest can start. This is not like it was in the final days of the Thatcher era when the process of initiating a leadership challenge was the trigger.
If Mrs. May is aware that she might be facing a confidence motion then you could envisage her standing aside on health grounds. If she wants to fight a confidence motion then that is her right.
I am hearing that moves are afoot to get the necessary 47 CON MPs to send a letter to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee requesting such a vote. This could be tight.
One of the great arguments being used by the PM’s defenders is that forcing TMay out would result in BJohnson becoming leader and PM.
My own view for what it is worth is that there will be a TMay resignation or confidence move and that the Foreign Secretary will NOT succeed Mrs. May.