Monday 22 April 2019 8:26 pm

Brexit has finished May, but MPs still need to find a way to honour the referendum result

Theresa May would be forgiven if she decided not to return from her Easter break.

While she walked the Welsh mountains, the mess she left in Westminster festered in the heat and one of her first engagements back in Downing Street will be to meet Sir Graham Brady, chair of the Tory party's committee of backbench MPs. He does not have good news for her.

According to reports over the weekend, Brady's message is stark: May has lost the support of more than 70 per cent of her MPs. Having survived a vote of no confidence triggered at the end of last year, May is technically immune from a further challenge until December.


But such is the weight of opposition to her leadership there is talk of changing the party's rules to allow another move against her. It isn't just her MPs who feel the game is up; rank and file party members want to have their say, too. In an extraordinary move, 70 local party associations have called on her to go. Some have decided not to campaign for the Conservatives in the upcoming European elections, and a poll reported yesterday revealed that 40 per cent of Tory councillors plan to vote for Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party.

The speed with which the former UKIP leader's new vehicle has surged to the top of opinion polls is nothing short of remarkable, and he looks likely to deliver a resounding message to both major parties if Britons are indeed asked to vote in elections to an institution that we were meant by now to have left. May is set to press ahead with her bid to find a compromise with Labour, but the longer she talks to Jeremy Corbyn the more furious her MPs and activists will become.

At the heart of the mess is parliament's failure to agree on a withdrawal deal, let alone a blueprint for a future relationship with the EU. While the Tory party looks set, with justification, to take the blame for a bungled Brexit, MPs across the Commons are responsible for this humiliating impasse and for all the talk of a fresh coup against the PM, it is parliament as a whole that must devise a way out.

Out of this stalemate, out of the constant state of crisis and out of the European Union.

 

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