Conservative MPs will discuss Theresa May’s future as Tory leader again later as demand grows for her to name a precise date for her departure.
The 1922 Committee of Tory MPs will press for a detailed “road map” of when the PM will leave office following the party’s drubbing in local elections.
Its chair, Sir Graham Brady, met Mrs May on Tuesday to raise MPs’ concerns.
In March, she pledged to stand down if and when Parliament ratified her Brexit withdrawal agreement.
But she has not made it clear how long she intends to stay if no deal is reached.
When it meets at 16.00 BST, the 1922 Committee’s executive – an elected body of MPs which represents backbenchers and oversees leadership contests – is expected to call for greater “clarity” about the PM’s intentions.
The party lost 1,300 councillors in English local elections last week and there have been warnings it faces a meltdown in elections to the European Parliament later this month.
No 10 insisted Tuesday’s meeting with Sir Graham was routine.
But pressure is mounting on the PM, with local Tory associations confirming they will hold a vote of confidence in her leadership on 15 June.
Many Brexiteers are angry at Mrs May’s efforts to find a compromise with Labour – a step she took after her deal with the EU was effectively rejected by MPs three times.
Some MPs want her to name a firm resignation date after the European polls, amid unconfirmed media reports she could be asked to resign as Tory leader but remain as prime minister for six weeks or so while a successor is elected.
But others think she should be allowed to stay until the autumn, if necessary, to deliver the UK’s exit from the EU.
The treasurer of the 1922 Committee, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, said things would “get much more messy” if Mrs May refused to set out her own timetable for leaving.
But former foreign minister Alistair Burt, who quit his post to vote against the government over Brexit, said he did not believe her hand should be forced.
“I think the prime minister is well aware of the pressures upon her, but she is very determined to get the first stage of Brexit agreed and I think that’s the right thing to do,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The 1922 Committee has previously rejected calls to re-write its rules to bring forward another confidence vote in the PM’s leadership.
At the moment, the earliest it can happen is in mid-December.
The UK had been due to leave the EU on 29 March, but the deadline was pushed back to 31 October after Parliament was unable to agree a way forward.
How could Theresa May be forced out?
No confidence vote of Tory MPs: Theresa May won a leadership ballot by 200 to 117 votes on 12 December 2018. Under current party rules, there can’t be another vote for a further year so the PM is technically safe until 12 December this year. Many MPs want to change the rules to allow an earlier contest but this would need to be agreed by the 1922 Committee.
No confidence vote in Parliament: The PM would have to resign if she lost a confidence vote in Parliament. Labour tried this manoeuvre in December but Tory MPs and their DUP allies backed the PM. Might some Tories now withhold their support if they think it will usher in a new leader rather than a general election?
Grassroots Tory revolt: Local Conservative associations seem to be turning against the PM, with one – Clwyd South – already passing a motion of no confidence in her. The National Conservative Convention’s vote on 15 June is non-binding, though, so the PM could ignore it.
Cabinet revolt: Margaret Thatcher quit in 1990 after a number of ministers told her it was time to go. Could history repeat itself? There has been no sign of that so far and colleagues who want to succeed her – and there are many – may not want to be seen to be the ones wielding the knife or to risk sacrificing their own careers.
Quits of her own accord: The BBC’s Norman Smith says there is no way the PM will “walk away” right now, but this could change in the aftermath of a “catastrophic” result in European elections.