British Prime Minister Theresa May has set a timetable for her departure from the top job as political rival Boris Johnson announced he would run for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
Mrs May has been under pressure to stand down as leader of the Conservatives over her handling of the United Kingdom’s bungled departure from the European Union, which has been pushed back six months from the original date of March 29.
On Thursday it was announced after a meeting with Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbencher Conservative MPs, that Mrs May will announce her departure in the first week of June – the same week her Brexit legislation is set to go before Parliament for the fourth time.
If the bill again fails to pass, it is expected Mrs May would stand down soon after. But if it passes, it could buy her more time as leader to see out Britain’s departure from the EU.
“She is determined to secure Britain’s departure from the European Union,” Sir Graham told the BBC.
“We have agreed to meet to decide the timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative Party as soon as the second reading (of the Brexit bill) has occurred and that will take place, regardless of what the vote is, on the second reading, whether it passes or doesn’t pass.”
Sir Graham Brady statement here: pic.twitter.com/BvlkayzgYH
— Liz Rawlings (@lizrawlings) May 16, 2019
Mrs May managed to fight off a vote of no-confidence in her leadership from Conservative MPs last December, with victory ensuring no challenges could be made for a further 12 months.
But at the time she also indicated she would step down before the next election in 2022, and the ongoing quandary over Brexit and baying from inside her own party has brought her departure forward.
Johnson throws hat in the ring
Mrs May’s announcement came as former foreign secretary and London mayor Boris Johnson confirmed he would put his hand up to be leader of the Conservatives.
Mr Johnson, a Brexiteer who quit his Cabinet role in July last year over Mrs May’s withdrawal bill, was asked during a Q and A at a business conference in Manchester if he would go for the top job.
“I’m going to go for it, of course I’m going to go for it,” he told a crowd at the British Insurance Brokers’ Association event.
“I don’t think that is any particular secret to anybody.
“But you know there is no vacancy at present.”
Mr Johnson shocked many when he chose not to run for the Conservative leadership following David Cameron’s resignation as leader in 2016, but only did so after main backer Michael Gove withdrew his support and instead ran himself.