Tories who have been scrambling to talk down a second vote on Brexit are now trying to change the party’s rules to allow for a second vote on its leadership.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the treasurer of the backbench Tory 1922 Committee, said he expected the group’s executive to vote on Tuesday on whether to bring forward the date on which a challenge to May’s leadership can be mounted by rebel MPs.
Under current rules, no confidence vote can be held for 12 months after the last challenge on December 12 2018, which May saw off by 200 votes to 117.
Reports suggest that this grace period could be reduced to six months, allowing a new vote on June 12.
The Brexiteer MP told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: ‘That’s what the executive will be debating when it meets. They have to decide whether they wish to change the rules or not.
‘I suspect quite a robust discussion will take place, because the executive represents all wings of the party. Eventually a motion will be put and that will be voted on.
‘I think it will be done by first-past-the-post, and if it succeeds then of course the vote which would otherwise have taken place on December 12 will be brought forward to whatever is agreed in the motion.’
Sir Geoffrey said he was ‘very unhappy’ that the UK is facing European elections almost three years after the referendum vote and would ‘wait and see’ whether he was ready to go out and campaign.
He said: ‘There’s a lot of anger out there in the country. I’ve been on the doorstep over the weekend and our activists certainly are very dissatisfied with our failure to deliver Brexit in almost three years since the referendum.’