Theresa May was due to meet with the 1922 Committee on Tuesday.
The chair of the committee, Graham Brady, has brought Tuesday’s meeting forward to Monday – tomorrow – in effect, summoning Theresa May before her backbenchers to explain herself.
One Conservative method of removing the leader is to have 15% of Tory backbenchers write to the chair of the committee asking for a vote of confidence in the current leader. (Iain Duncan Smith was the last leader to be removed in this way.)
The backbenchers will certainly want Theresa May to justify why she should stay on as Tory leader after she called a general election that dissolved the Tory party’s small but working majority. Given that Theresa May’s motivation for calling that general election may have been precisely so that she needn’t worry about Tory backbencher rebellions against her while going through the show of Brexit negotiations, she may find this question difficult to answer.
But that’s really not the only question they should be asking.
They may also want to know why she claimed on Friday morning to have a deal already made with the DUP to prop up the tiny Tory advantage in Parliament, only to have the DUP deny it by Saturday: and they should certainly ask what the DUP is demanding as payment for the deal.
Some of them at least will want to know how May plans to prevent the Tory party being tarred by association with the creationist, climate-change-denying, homophobic, sectarian, anti-abortion DUP.
A few may even think to ask how May plans to preserve the Northern Ireland peace process, already at risk from Brexit, by removing the UK government’s ability to be a neutral broker in the Stormont crisis, on-going since January: and what happens if Sinn Fein mounts a legal challenge, asserting in court that the UK government is now in breach of the Good Friday Agreement.
If a UK government has been formed with the DUP’s support and this government is under legal challenge, even if the challenge fails, the EU negotiations – due to start on 19th June, already delayed by May’s general election – will have to be further put off because the EU cannot begin negotiations with a government in legal doubt and uncertainty. A European council meeting on 22nd June is said to be the next deadline for Theresa May – if still Prime Minister – to explain herself and to say when the negotiations can start.
The deadline for Brexit is 29th March 2019 and weeks have already been wasted.
I don’t have a Tory MP. If I did, and especially if they were a backbencher, I would write to them tonight or contact them by phone tomorrow and ask them to ask Theresa May these questions at her meeting with them tomorrow.
Please feel free to share this as widely as you can: Tory backbenchers should know that they need to hold Theresa May to account for more than just putting their jobs at risk.