Theresa May to address Conservative backbenchers amid concerns over her exit timetable | Politics News

The EU withdrawal bill could be back for another reading in the Commons before the European elections, as Theresa May faces questions about when she will leave Number 10.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs, told reporters it is his understanding that the government will table the bill for the second reading before 23 May, despite there still being no clear compromise between Tories and Labour on a deal.

Mrs May has also agreed to speak to the committee some time next week, after a series of meetings with Sir Graham.

Graham Brady has been meeting with the PM as backbenchers are angry about her leadership
Graham Brady has been meeting the PM as some backbenchers are angry about her leadership

It comes after she again refused to set out a timetable for her departure since promising the committee she would leave after the first stage of Brexit was passed.

She is believed to be prepared to discuss her exit at next week’s meeting, but Sir Graham would not confirm this. It is understood she could meet them on Wednesday 15 May at their weekly meeting, but it could happen at another point in the week.

He told Sky News: “We will see her next week. The 1922 executive two weeks ago said it wouldn’t change the rules for a confidence vote, but it did also formally request a clearer timetable for her departure.

“She said she would leave after the approval of the Withdrawal Agreement but she hasn’t set out what she will do if it isn’t approved.”

Sir Graham went on to say that the executive of the 1922 committee has asked for that timetable and it will be the question it wants resolved when they meet with her next week.

He added: “I had a positive meeting with the prime minister yesterday. I have a greater sense of what is in her mind from those discussions.

“It’s clear she is determined to make progress in the near future on the first stage of Brexit. In order to do that, the intention is to have the second reading of the bill [EU Withdrawal Bill].

“That could reflect certain things that might be agreed with Labour. My own view is that there is an alternative – a bill which brings the assurances on the backstop.

“The one thing that’s had a majority in parliament is my amendment, which is the deal without the backstop.”

Leaving the meeting, Nadine Dorries MP said: “She’s not given any decision, there’s no timetable and they need to get on with it.

“We need to make sure we get that final decision soon because everybody needs it.”

She told Sky News: “We have the worst and weakest cabinet in my lifetime.”

At Wednesday’s 1922 committee meeting, Sir Graham told Conservatives he had met with Mrs May twice and described her determination to get the Brexit deal ratified.

But one MP apparently told the group they should be “assertive” and the party needed to have “an end in sight”.

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