As MPs return from their Easter break, the ruling executive of the 1922 Committee could try to force on the PM a fixed date for her departure, sources said.
If she refuses, they could tear up rules which prevent the leader facing more than one confidence vote in a 12-month period, opening the door to a leadership challenge.
Disgruntled backbenchers have set a June 12 deadline for Mrs May to stand down, the
Last night Nigel Evans, an officer on the committee, abandoned his long-standing support for the PM because of her failure to deliver Brexit.
Conservative MP Nigel Evans (pictured) has abandoned his long-standing support for the PM because of her failure to deliver Brexit
He said: ‘Reluctantly I have come to the conclusion that fresh leadership is needed for the party. I have never said this before. I did say to Theresa May “Do not breathe fresh life into Nigel Farage’, and that’s exactly what she has done.
‘He has gone from his death bed to the Olympics, because Brexit hasn’t happened.’
The former deputy speaker said it was ‘ludicrous’ for the party to be fighting European elections costing more than £100million.
‘We are asking candidates to put themselves forward for an election saying, ‘We hope to have left before you can take up your seat’,’ he said. ‘In what business would the chief executive be able to stay if £109million had been wasted? It’s ludicrous for us to go down this route.’
At the same time, it emerged that Tory Party bosses will be forced to hold an emergency conference of grassroots members after 70 local party chairmen signed a petition designed to force the PM from office.
Although they can’t force Mrs May out, such a vote would intensify the pressure on her. After enjoying a week’s walking holiday in Wales, the PM will pin her hopes on cross-party talks with Labour to secure a Brexit deal. But neither she nor Jeremy Corbyn will attend the first meeting this afternoon.
The Mail understands there were no formal meetings between the two sides last week, with discussions limited to ‘positions exchanged on paper and email’.
Theresa May, pictured at church on Easter Sunday with her husband Philip, could face pressure from backbench Conservative MPs to name a departure date
One ministerial source said the PM has three weeks ‘at most’ to secure a deal with Labour or move on to a series of binding votes on different options. The 18 members of the 1922 executive are due to meet at 5pm in Committee Room 14.
One source said they expected a majority would back giving Mrs May an ultimatum to go by a particular date.
That could be in May after the European elections or as late as June 30, the date after which Mrs May said she could not continue as PM.
The source said that if Mrs May refused, the committee could tear up the rules, almost guaranteeing a no-confidence vote within days, or hold an ‘indicative vote’ of MPs on whether she should go.
One said: ‘If we fight the EU elections it would be an appalling failure and she will have to go. We are not going to allow her to choose a date. We are going to give her a date.’
Allies of Mrs May insist she has no intention of hanging on. One said: ‘The PM is not in a position where she wants to be there forever. If we can find a way to get a deal through Parliament she will go.’
However Dinah Glove, the chairman of the London East Conservatives, told the Mail Mrs May had abandoned her pledge to leave on March 30, abandoned her ‘No Deal is better than a bad deal’ mantra, and brought Jeremy Corbyn into the heart of government. ‘She has to go now,’ she said.