I understand Sir Graham Brady – chairman of the 1922 committee and therefore representative of all Tory MPs – expects to see Theresa May this afternoon and will receive a response from the PM to the request from the ‘22 executive for her to set out a binding, all-weather timetable for her resignation.
Following the Tory humiliation in the local elections and the anticipated humiliation in the forthcoming EU elections, there is an expectation and hope among Tory MPs and her cabinet colleagues that she will announce a departure date that would allow Tory MPs to choose their shortlist of two candidates in June or July – which would then permit hustings of Tory members over the summer and the election of the new leader BEFORE Tory conference.
But close colleagues of May think she wants still to be Prime Minister and party leader at the Conservative party conference, which in her view would be the showcase for the duo of potential leaders picked by MPs, before the final vote by members. I can find NO senior Tory who thinks the party will permit her to do that.
We should learn more about when and how she goes in the next 24 hours, because Brady will communicate the PM’s response to his executive tomorrow afternoon. And they in turn will have to decide whether she has either given an acceptable resignation timetable, or failing that, whether to step up the pressure on her to do so by changing Tory party rules to permit a new vote of no confidence in her within weeks.
As I have said before, she remains PM despite her party, not because of it. And although her superpower is to defy political gravity, even she can’t ignore her party forever.
Robert Peston is ITV’s Political Editor. This article originally appeared on his ITV news blog