If May survives a confidence vote, she cannot be challenged again for another 12 months. But this rule might persuade some MPs to vote against her now – and they are not confined to Eurosceptics
The Independent Voices
“Just wait until we get a deal; it will change everything,” one close ally of Theresa May told me a week ago. He predicted the pound would rise, a relieved business world would endorse the deal and the momentum behind it would persuade wavering Tory MPs to support it in next month’s crucial Commons vote.
Things have not quite gone according to plan. The cabinet gave the deal only lukewarm support; two members and two junior ministers resigned. Business figures briefly welcomed the deal, but are now pressing on with preparations for the no-deal exit they are desperate to avoid. The pound has slumped.
May cut an isolated figure in the Commons when she tried to rally Tory MPs behind her deal, while Labour backbenchers gave no sign of rescuing her. The tide is running against, not for, the deal. Everyone at Westminster knows it will be shot down.
Even worse for May is the very real prospect that her critics will soon have the required 48 Tory MPs needed to trigger a vote of confidence in her as party leader. It could take place as early as Monday or Tuesday. If she failed to win a majority (158) of Tory MPs, she would have to resign, and could not stand in the ensuing leadership contest.