May to set timeline to quit

13 May 2019 | International

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to set out her departure plans within days, the leader of backbench lawmakers in her governing Conservative Party said over the weekend.

Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 Committee of rank-and-file Conservative MPs, said he expected May to provide clarity on her exit timetable at a meeting with him on Wednesday.

He also said he thought talks between the government and the Labour main opposition on a compromise Brexit deal will flounder within days.

“I find it very hard to see how that route can lead to any sensible resolution,” Brady told BBC radio.

Britain's two biggest parties - Conservative and Labour - suffered big losses in Thursday's local elections in England and Northern Ireland, according to partial results from the BBC. Labour is pressing for closer customs alignment with the European Union post-Brexit.

“If the customs union is agreed without a second referendum then half the Labour Party won't vote for whatever comes through regardless, and if a customs union is agreed then most of the Conservative Party isn't going to support it,” said Brady.

“So, I can't see that is a very productive route to follow, and I may be wrong, but I suspect it will peter out in the next few days without having come to any significant conclusion.”

May has said she will step aside once a Brexit deal has been passed by parliament.

But the clamour for her to go sooner increased after the May 2 English local elections.

The Conservatives lost control of several local authorities and well over a thousand seats, performing far worse than even the gloomiest predictions as voters vented their frustration over the Brexit impasse.

May has agreed to meet Brady on Wednesday over her resignation plans.

“The 1922 executive has asked her to give that clarity. She has offered to come and meet the executive, which we've accepted,” Brady said.

“It would be strange for that not to result in a clear understanding at the end of the meeting.

“We have asked the question and she is coming, I assume, to answer it.” Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is the bookmakers' favourite to become the next Conservative leader, and therefore prime minister.

Bookies have him ahead of former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, environment secretary Michael Gove and then foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.

NAMPA/AFP

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