Talk of letters to Graham Brady is probably just talk
It has been reported over the weekend that Mrs May could possibly face a challenge over the issue of whether Britain remains in a Customs Union after Brexit.
Hardline Brexiteers are absolutely resolute that this should not happen and have been making vibes that should Mrs May concede what seems to be the position of Brussels then she could face a confidence vote.
There are warnings about that in order to make the PM more resolved in her stance then letters are ready to go to Mr Graham Brady, pictured above, the chairman of the 1922 Committee demanding an immediate vote of no confidence in her leadership.
Brady is required under the party’s rules to hold an immediate secret ballot of CON MPs should he receive 48 such letters.
But the letters are not the end of the matter. If there was such a ballot Mrs May would have to be defeated and that would open the way for a new Conservative leadership election which could take weeks or even months to complete.
But would Mrs May be defeated? Isn’t it likely that loyalists who fear an alternative leader or the turmoil of a prolonged contest might garner round the incumbent to ensure that she stays in power?
In that situation a victory by Mrs May would enhance her position and make it stronger. The party rules make it clear that she would then have a year’s immunity from a further challenge and that would take her through to Brexit and beyond.
It should be noted that the rules of the party have changed since 1990 when Mrs Thatcher faced a direct leadership challenge. Now to get rid of a leader a confidence vote, like that which happened with IDS in 2003, has to be taken first. The loser of a confidence vote is barred from competing in the following leadership contest.
A failed coup against the PM would create stability and underpin Mrs May’s position. This is, of course, why the hardliners cannot risk it.