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  1. ITV Report

Threat of early challenge to oust Theresa May lifted - at least until December

Conservative MPs will not be able to hold another no confidence vote in May until December. Credit: PA

The threat of a challenge to Theresa May's position as Conservative leader has been lifted - at least until December.

Senior Tory MPs on the executive of the backbench 1922 Committee rejected calls for changes to the party's rules to allow a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister in the coming weeks.

But the Committee is to ask Mrs May for "clarity" on how long she plans to remain PM if her EU Withdrawal Agreement fails.

Under the current rules of the 1922 committee, Conservative MPs cannot mount more than one vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister in the space of 12 months.

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, said there needed to be a "clear road map" going forward.

He told ITV News it would be "surprising" if she replied that she wanted to stay on as late as December this year.

Officers of the 1922 executive met in Westminster for the second day running amid growing pressure for the Prime Minister to name the date of her departure.

They decided there should be no change to the rule which grants a leader a 12-month period of grace following a no-confidence vote during which they cannot be challenged again.

Mrs May survived the no confidence vote mounted against her on December 12, 2018 but 200 votes to 117 - meaning the earliest time MPs could move to depose her is in December.

However, Mrs May said last month she planned to step down at the end of the latest stage of Brexit talks, which are due to conclude by October.

Speaking after a meeting of the full committee at which the executive's decision was announced to backbench Tories, Sir Graham said he believed that the issue had now been settled for the foreseeable future.

"We have given this subject a very good airing and thorough debate, and reached our determination," he said.

"I don't think there will be any mood to revisit these matters in the near future."

One member of the 1922 executive, former deputy speaker Nigel Evans, has called publicly for Mrs May to go "as soon as possible".