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Theresa May cannot ignore her party forever, writes Robert Peston

Theresa May survived a confidence vote in December 2018, as announced by Sir Graham Brady. Credit: PA

I understand Sir Graham Brady - chairman of the 1922 committee and therefore representative of all Tory MPs - expects to see Theresa May this afternoon and receive a response from the PM to the request from the ‘22 executive for her to set out a binding all-weather timetable for her resignation.

Following the Tory humiliation in the local elections and the anticipated humiliation in the forthcoming EU elections, there is an expectation and hope among Tory MPs and her cabinet colleagues that she will announce a departure date that would allow MPs to choose their shortlist of two candidates in June or July - which would then permit hustings of members over the summer and the election of the new leader BEFORE Tory conference.

But close colleagues of the PM think she wants still to be PM and party leader at party conference, which on her view would be the showcase for the duo of potential leaders picked by MPs, prior to that final vote by members.

Theresa May wants be party leader until the party conference. Credit: PA

I can find NO senior Tory who thinks the party will permit her to do that.

And we should learn more about when and how she goes in the next 24 hours, because Brady will communicate the PM’s response to his executive tomorrow afternoon.

And they in turn will have to decide whether she has either given an acceptable resignation timetable, or failing that whether to step up the pressure on her to do so by changing Tory party rules to permit a new vote of no confidence in her within weeks.

As I have said before, she remains PM despite her party, not because of it.

And although her superpower is to defy political gravity, even she can’t ignore her party forever.