This might not quite be the highest-ever level of support we’ve recorded from party members for the idea of Theresa May stepping aside immediately, but these figures still make grim reading for Number Ten.
Fully four in five now want the Prime Minister to step aside before the next general election. Worse, 42 per cent want her to stand down immediately, even at the cost of triggering a leadership contest at a less-than-ideal moment. For comparison, just last month that latter figure stood at just 35 per cent, against 45 per cent for “before the next election”.
What this represents then is not a net shift in the share of the membership which wants her to go – those who wish her to remain in post have held steady at somewhere shy of 20 per cent – but a substantial hardening of attitudes within the majority which views her leadership as, at best, a short-term proposition.
There will likely be several factors behind this, but perhaps the most plausible is that many members no longer believe that May is willing or able to deliver the clean, decisive Brexit they want, and which she appeared to promise earlier in her premiership. That promise has helped to delay the reckoning with the Party which in normal circumstances would have followed the self-inflicted disaster of the 2017 election campaign.
Without it, almost half the membership don’t think her leadership worth prolonging even until our formal departure from the EU in the spring. That Tory MPs, once famed for their ruthlessness, are themselves unwilling or unable to act in such circumstances is testament that these are strange times.