Perhaps the title of this post is a bit too certain (it’s effectively ‘how long until May resigns’). After all, I’ve got just about everything that’s happened in the past 2 years wrong. However, the view Theresa May will not fight another general election as Conservative leader is virtually a fact. Even if May wanted to do this, her party simply wouldn’t allow it. The Prime Minister is currently seen by most as nothing more than a caretaker leader to lead the UK through Brexit, but for how long can she hold onto Downing Street? I’ve had a bit of a think…
The Brexit process must be completed by March 2019 according to the EU’s timetable. Following whatever final deal the UK achieves, it must then be voted on by MPs. This could pose an issue for the Tories because with a wafer thin majority, it will only take a few rebels to call the plans to a halt. As a result, if Labour decide not to back the deal, it is likely that Theresa May would have to call another election. She would almost certainly be ‘banned’ from running for another term by her party, and a quick leadership contest would be triggered.
However, even if there was the support needed for Brexit to get through Parliament, following the conclusion of the deal I still think that May would step down. This Parliament session is 2 years long and is scheduled to finish in June 2019, just a couple of months after the end of Brexit. Providing the Tories’ standings in opinion polls aren’t too bad, it would be a sensible time to start a new era due to the thing that would have taken the majority of Parliament’s time being complete.
Although there’s the possibility of the deal with the DUP falling through before then, the agreement between the two parties was effectively revealed in the Queen’s Speech with plans such as means testing winter fuel payments and lifting the ban on the creation of grammar schools scrapped. As a result, I think that it will last until the end of the Brexit process, but perhaps no further.
And then there’s the more interesting business of predicting who will be in line to replace May. If she had stepped down after the election I would have said that a Brexiteer is needed, however I think that after Brexit this will be less important. Boris Johnson looks like a frontrunner, and although David Davis would be in contention in the event of a leadership contest now, after Brexit I don’t think that he would be in as strong a position. Although Amber Rudd could be considered a potential challenger I think that she would be considered to similar to May and too risky a choice considering she only just held on to her Hastings seat last month.
Jacob Rees-Mogg could potentially stand, however I’m unsure whether a challenger on the far-right of the party would have the popular support from the party membership. I can’t see Michael Gove or Andrea Leadsom standing again, but perhaps Sajid Javid and Liam Fox would try once more.
For me, I can’t really see anyone other than Boris Johnson becoming Tory leader. He is a hugely popular figure within the party and well-known to the public, something that could make him unstoppable if he decided to run for Conservative leadership, something he’s always wanted to do.
But then again, what do I know?