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Tuesday 30 April 2019

Finally, serious moves are being made to depose Theresa May, not in the parliamentary Conservative Party, but the grassroots. Where else?

The Sun report the no-confidence petition against the party leader circulated among local association chairmen has finally reached the threshold of 65, triggering an extraordinary general meeting, the first in the Conservative Party’s history, truly extraordinary.

“We are in new territory,” says John Strafford, chair of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy. “If the meeting is held and the motion passed it would put massive pressure on Theresa May to resign. It does not force the issue but would be quite devastating to her authority.”

This time last week, it was reported CCHQ had been was told to prepare for an EGM, which must take place within 28 days of the announcement. However, there is no obligation to call the meeting promptly. Conservative HQ is likely to deliberate, using the additional time to pressure, and perhaps even select, the 800 party members who will attend the meeting of the National Convention, which will preside over the motion.

According to the BBC, the prime minister has decided her successor will administer the next Queen’s speech. But don’t get your hopes up.

“It is very unlikely Theresa May will preside over a substantive Queen’s speech,” said a Whitehall source.

“It will be for the next prime minister to set out their substantive agenda for the next phase of policymaking.”

The revelation comes on the back of yesterday’s rumours Number 10 was going to table benign legislation over the summer in order to prolong the current session of Parliament, which is technically expiring – the Queen laid out a two-year legislative programme in June 2017.

May’s condition of leaving remains getting a withdrawal agreement through Parliament. Once the terms are settled, she’ll pack her bags.

But how on earth is that going to happen? The BBC also reports that, along the lines of the Oliver Letwin takeover of the Commons, May is now considering indicative votes for MPs to order their choices, which will supposedly create common ground for a Brexit deal, along the lines of the Customs Union no doubt.

In typical May style, her plans do nothing to alter the essential dynamics. Letwin’s indicative votes failed not once, but twice. Even if some magical common ground is discovered, it won’t represent new votes, just a shift towards the Labour position at the expense of yet more Tory votes, further destabilising the government. It’s absolute madness.

Mrs May needs to wake up to reality. If there is to be a deal – and given the circumstances a No Deal would be favourable – it will need to look completely different, resembling her original pledge for a conventional trade agreement. A restart can only occur once Mrs May is out of the door. She needs to listen to her grassroots and go.