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May under pressure to set her departure date


London, May 16 (IANS): UK Prime Minister Theresa May will meet senior Conservative MPs later on Thursday who are demanding that she set a date for her departure from Downing Street, the media reported.

The Prime Minister, who is under growing pressure from her own MPs to stand aside, will meet the executive of the backbench 1922 Committee -- an elected body of MPs which represents backbenchers and also oversees leadership contests -- to discuss her future, the BBC reported.

Existing rules mean she cannot be formally challenged until December.

In the meeting on Thursday, the senior Conservative MPs are expected to press her to set out her departure timetable, regardless of whether Parliament backs her Brexit withdrawal agreement.

After the talks with May, the executive will hold another meeting where changes to the leadership rules could be discussed again.

MP Peter Bone produced a letter from Conservative activists in the Commons on Wednesday, saying they had lost confidence in May and want her to resign before European elections on May 23.

They view the deal that May has reached with the EU as "worse than staying in the European Union", he said.

May's former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, writing in his Telegraph column, said the Prime Minister must "accept that the game is up".

She should "do her duty and stand aside" in order to avoid a "national humiliation" and save the Conservative Party, he said.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Committee, said: "What I would like to see is her set out a timetable to trigger a leadership contest."

He said it would be "infinitely preferable if she set a date rather than us force her out".

In March, May pledged to stand down if and when Parliament ratified her Brexit withdrawal agreement, but did not make it clear how long she intends to stay if no deal is reached.

The UK had been due to leave the European Union on March 29, but the deadline was pushed back to October 31 after Parliament was unable to agree to a way forward.

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