As she leaves for China TMay says she’s not a quitter and will lead party into GE2022

As she leaves for China TMay says she’s not a quitter and will lead party into GE2022

At least this could bring things to a head

With all the talk about the number of letters going to Graham Brady demanding a confidence vote in Mrs Mays leadership she has responded by making it very clear that her intention is to see it out until the next general election.

This flies in the face of the broad understanding that existed when she was allowed to carry on after her failure in June last year to retain the Conservative majority. The whole point of calling an early election was to increase her majority in order to strengthen her mandate on Brexit.

The broad view within the parliamentary party has been in that Theresa May would stand down in 2019 following the implementation of Brexit. This has led to the widespread assumption that there would be a leadership contest in the summer of next year.

The way that Theresa May handled that GE2017 campaign making it’s very personal all about herself with very little about the party still rankles amongst Conservatives. We all remember the battle bus which had no mention of the word Conservative on it. There was what in hindsight was her disastrous decision not to participate in a TV debate with Jeremy Corbyn allowing Amber Rudd to stand in for her.

    What she is broadly saying now is that if you want me out then you will have to force me and maybe this will prove to be a gamble, like GE2017 that has got wrong.

The danger for her is that it could encourage more letters to be sent to Mr Brady. As we all know 15% of the parliamentary party, 48 MPs, have to have filed letters with the Chairman of the 1922 committee in order for a vote of confidence to take place. This could take it over the top.

One of the strengths of the TMay approach is it can be argued that the time is never right for a decisive vote of confidence and a leadership contest. There will always be a reason for postpone it.

If she gets through the next few weeks my betting will be that she’ll survive till 2022.

Mike Smithson

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