Theresa May’s future: What happens now?

Theresa May’s deal has been pulled from the Commons timetable, despite her insistence it would be tabled this month and voted on in the first week of June.

Mrs May’s survival is tightly bound to the fate of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and, up until now, she has pledged to quit once her deal is through.

The resignation of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, who said she could not put forward the latest version of the deal, could well be the final nail in its coffin.

Brexit
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom (Victoria Jones/PA)

Hopes of a fourth vote on the Brexit deal are fading fast and, with them, any reason for the Prime Minister to continue as leader. So, when is Mrs May likely to stand down?

– What has happened to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?

The resignation of Commons Leader Mrs Leadsom, who would have introduced the Business Statement to MPs on Thursday, meant Government whip Mark Spencer was roped in to deputise.

He told the Commons that an update about when the Bill would be published would not be made until after the Whitsun recess, which would be Tuesday June 4 at the earliest.

Separately, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said they could not say when the Bill would be published.

European Parliament election
Henry the Labradoodle outside a polling station at Spike Island in Bristol (Claire Hayhurst/PA)

– Will Theresa May survive Thursday?

Even the most optimistic onlookers will conclude that Theresa May’s premiership is entering its final weeks, if not days.

Mrs Leadsom’s resignation brings the total number of ministers quitting Mrs May’s Cabinet to 36, 21 of whom left over her Brexit strategy.

Expectations of Conservative performance in the European elections are at rock bottom, but the official results will not be announced until Sunday, giving her some breathing space.

– What about Friday?

Mrs May will meet Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, for a meeting that should shed some light on whether Mrs May will be forced out or able to go on her own terms.

Mrs May had previously agreed to set out the timetable for her departure after a crunch vote on her Brexit deal, widely expected on June 7.

Brexit
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers (Victoria Jones/PA)

That deadline appears to have been brought forward with the announcement she will meet Sir Graham the day after polling day for the European elections, but ahead of the results in the early hours of Monday.

Following his meeting with Mrs May, Sir Graham will then consult with the 17 other members of the 1922 executive, with reports they have held a secret ballot on whether to allow a rule change for an early no confidence vote should Mrs May want to stay in post.

– Will anyone else resign?

Rumours had been circulating in Westminster on Wednesday that Mrs Leadsom could quit after she and a number of other Brexit-supporting colleagues in the so-called Pizza Club were absent for the start of Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mrs Leadsom’s resignation will spark fears in Downing Street that others could follow suit, and eyes will be firmly on the likes of Brexiteer Cabinet ministers including Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt, Michael Gove and Chris Grayling.

It is with great regret and a heavy heart that I have decided to resign from the Government. pic.twitter.com/f2SOXkaqmH

— Andrea Leadsom MP (@andrealeadsom) May 22, 2019

– What will happen to Mrs May if she is still Prime Minister after the weekend?

European election results will be announced in the early hours of Monday morning and are expected to be dire for the Tories, so pressure for Mrs May to hand over the reins will be intense.

A decision will need to be made on whether to make a fourth attempt at winning support for her deal in June, or whether to officially pull the trigger for a Conservative leadership race.

The first week of June will also see another state visit by US president Donald Trump, Downing Street has confirmed.

And Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday he believed Theresa May would be Prime Minister to welcome him “and rightly so”.

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