In Brief

Theresa May agrees to set her departure date after next Brexit vote

PM's announcement follows Boris Johnson's admission he will run for leadership

Theresa May will set out the timetable for her departure following next month’s attempt to get her Brexit withdrawal deal passed by the Commons.

Following a meeting with the prime minister, the chair of the Tory backbench 1992 Committee Sir Graham Brady said: “We have agreed that she and I will meet following the second reading of the bill to agree a timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative and Unionist party.”

The announcement came after Boris Johnson said he will run for the Conservative Party leadership after Theresa May stands down. Asked at a business event in Manchester if he would be a candidate, the former foreign secretary replied: “Of course I'm going to go for it.”

The Guardian says May’s move sees her “avert Tory mutiny”. Sky News says Brady’s announcement “will ratchet up the jostling and jockeying to replace Mrs May in Downing Street,” though it characterised Johnson’s remarks as merely confirming “an open secret in Westminster”.

Brady described his talks with May as “very frank” and said his next meeting with her would take place regardless of whether the Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes.

Brexiteers who have been clamouring for May to stand down have been exasperated by the latest development. One Conservative MP told Sky News that the announcement, which means May has delayed naming the date of her departure, showed the 1922 Committee was “absolutely weak”.

“They're going to split this party down the middle,” the unnamed MP added.

Asked when May should step down, another MP, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, said: “Personally, the sooner the better, and that’s not being unkind to the prime minister. 

“I just think the longer this goes on, it’s not in the nation’s interests, it’s not in the party’s interests. We’ve got European elections looming. Goodness knows what the results of that will be.”

Meanwhile, Johnson said of his decision to run for leadership: “I don't think that is any particular secret to anybody. But you know there is no vacancy at present.”

In what is being interpreted as the first statements of his leadership campaign, he added: “I do think there's been a real lack of grip and dynamism in the way we approached these talks [with the EU].

“We've failed over the last three years to put forward a convincing narrative about how we can make sense of Brexit and how to exploit the opportunities of Brexit."

The Spectator says Johnson “may be the Tories' best hope,” but adds that “the biggest threat to Boris's leadership bid could be Boris himself”.

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