THERESA May has won a Brexit reprieve after Tory grandees agreed to allow her to continue as the party leader until the Commons crunch vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill early next month.

The Prime Minister, as expected, refused to set a departure date when she addressed the executive of the Conservatives’ backbench 1922 committee. It was agreed that she should meet with its Chairman, Sir Graham Brady, after the Second Reading vote, which is due to take place in the first week of June.

It is widely believed that a fourth defeat for her Brexit plan would lead to her immediate resignation, sparking a summer leadership contest.

The 1922 Committee meeting in the House of Commons was a lengthy one, where “emotions ran high,” one source said.

In a statement, Sir Graham said: “The Prime Minister is determined to secure our departure from the European Union and is devoting her efforts to securing the Second Reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week commencing June 3 2019 and the passage of that bill and the consequent departure of the United Kingdom from the EU by the summer.

“We have agreed that she and I will meet following the Second Reading of the bill to agree a timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party.”

By coincidence, the development came as Boris Johnson made clear he would “of course” put himself forward for the Tory leadership in a bid to succeed Mrs May once she stepped down.

The former Foreign Secretary’s declaration after he gave a speech at the British Insurance Brokers Conference in Manchester came as HarperCollins announced the autobiography of David Cameron, For The Record, would be published on Thursday September 19, a week before the autumn Tory conference in Manchester.

Mr Johnson, when asked if he would throw his hat in the ring, said: “Of course, I’m going to go for it.”

The move by the former Secretary of State will come as a surprise to no one given his outspoken comments on Brexit and Mrs May’s performance.

He is expected to join a raft of colleagues seeking the Tory crown. Already some have been “on manoeuvres,” setting out their vision for the future of the country and the party in speeches. They include Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Amber Rudd, Dominic Raab, Liz Truss, Rory Stewart and Esther McVey.

A move to block Mr Johnson has already begun by Scottish Conservatives, dubbed “Operation Arse”.

There is a belief among some Scottish Tories that a Johnson premiership would “gift-wrap independence” and jeopardise any chance Ruth Davidson has of becoming First Minister. Nicola Sturgeon has already suggested that a victory for the former London Mayor would mean the fortunes for the Scottish independence campaign would “sky-rocket”.

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll showed Mrs May’s net favourability rating has fallen to -49 [21 per cent have a favourable view of her and 70 per cent an unfavourable one] from -39 in March. Jeremy Corbyn’s rating has risen slightly from -53 to -50. Nigel Farage’s is -32.