Last night the threshold needed to demand an extraordinary general meeting of the party’s national convention, the most powerful body representing the rank and file, was reached. Sources involved in the plot said the petition had been backed by at least 65 constituency association chairmen after the Prime Minister’s “spectacular failure to deliver” Brexit. “It’s a farce,” they added. “If she’s not capable of doing the job, then somebody come forward that is because this just can’t go on.” It will be at least a month before the meeting can be held and the results of the confidence vote will not be binding on the Prime Minister. But losing the support of the party’s volunteers, who give up their free time to knock on doors to rally support, would heap pressure on her to go. It comes amid a slew of devastating polls for Mrs May as she prepares for local and European elections next month.
Some 40 percent of her own councillors are prepared to vote for Nigel Farage’s rival Brexit Party at the European poll. Around three quarters want her to resign and 43 percent want her to go immediately, according to the Survation poll.
The shock results also show that while Boris Johnson is the favourite choice among Tory councillors to replace her, Mr Farage is second.
Some 15 percent of those surveyed said they believed the Brexit Party leader would be the best choice to head their party while Mr Johnson was just four points ahead on 19 percent.
Mr Farage said the Prime Minister had presided over “near-anarchy on the Tory benches” as MPs have “deliberately gone against the party’s manifesto and done everything they can to thwart the referendum result”.
Mrs May’s failure to secure Brexit has led to outrage throughout the party
43 percent of Tory councillors want the PM gone immediately
Nearly all of 781 councillors polled, 96 percent, agreed that Brexit deadlock had damaged the Conservatives.
One councillor said: “The Conservative Party is dead. It will take a strong leader to dredge it out of the mud.”
Separate research for the influential ConservativeHome website found nearly eight out of 10 want Mrs May to quit, up from seven out of 10 the previous month.
Former Tory MP Paul Goodman, the website’s editor, said: “The second postponement of Brexit and the talks with Jeremy Corbyn are undoubtedly huge contributors to this lamentable rating.”
Mr Goodman said the party’s volunteers had had “lost confidence” in the Prime Minister with just 19 percent backing her to stay.
Boris Johnson is the favourite to take over from Theresa May
The Tory group on Derbyshire County Council has said it will not campaign for the party in the European elections on May 23.
Barry Lewis, who has led the Derbyshire authority since May 2017, said: “We were promised, following the largest public mandate a UK Government has ever received, that we would be out by March 29.
“The Prime Minister said we would be out by that date countless times, so did many others in Government, and yet here we are racing towards the end of April and facing an increased prospect of participating in a European election in May that should not be happening.”
Britain is obliged to elect 73 MEPs to the European Parliament if it has not left by polling day and they will sit until the country leaves on October 31 or the EU divorce deal is ratified in the Commons.
40 percent of May’s councillors are prepared to vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party
Election experts Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher say the Conservatives “look certain” to to lose 500 council seats in local election on May 2 but the scale of the loss could be as high as 1,000.
Leading American pollster Frank Luntz said Tory supporters are also staunchly opposed to plans for the High Speed 2 rail link between London and the north.
A memo he drew up that is being circulated among senior party figures found “revulsion” at the project, due to run to Birmingham then on to Manchester and Leeds, cutting through swathes of Tory heartlands.
The research suggests party members are more likely to back a leadership candidate who pledged to scrap the rail link. Mrs May promised to quit if her Brexit deal was passed by MPs, but the move failed to win over enough support.
Farage’s Brexit Party has grown in popularity since the PM’s Brexit failure
She is expected to be told this week to go by the end of June. Mrs May survived a confidence vote by her MPs in December and another challenge cannot be mounted within 12 months.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, is reportedly ready to tell the Prime Minister that 70 percent of Tory MPs now want her to resign and the executive of the group is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss changing the leadership rules.
That could mean challenges being allowed every six months but increasing the number of MPs needed to trigger a contest.
Mrs May’s decision to hold talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stoked up anger in the party. The discussions have failed to make significant progress and few expect a successful outcome.