How would a vote of no confidence in Theresa May as Prime Minister work?
48 MPs would need to write to the 1922 Committee to trigger a no confidence vote
Months after resignations from David Davis and Boris Johnson sparked fears that Tory MPs could trigger a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Theresa May, just before her conference speech, James Duddridge MP submitted a letter of no confidence.
But with no obvious successor to Mrs May, MPs are likely to be thinking over their next moves very carefully.
What is a motion of no confidence?
It is a formal motion in the House of Commons with the wording: “That this House has no confidence in HM Government.”
It basically means MPs feel the Prime Minister is no longer deemed fit to hold their role.
If a new government with the support of the majority of MPs cannot be formed with 14 calendar days, Parliament is dissolved and an early General Election is triggered.
How do MPs trigger a no confidence motion?
Under current rules, 15 per cent of Tory MPs must write to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, to trigger a vote of no confidence in Mrs May.
At present, 48 MPs would need to back the motion.
The committee is then required to consider and hold a vote.
What is the 1922 Committee?
This is an influential committee of all backbench Conservative MPs.
They meet every week – when the House of Commons is in sitting – to discuss the party’s frontbenchers.
The MPs who originally formed it were elected in 1922.
One of the committee’s biggest responsibilities is overseeing the leadership elections within the Conservative Party.
What happens next?
If enough Tories back a no confidence vote, it would trigger a vote of all Conservative MPs and Mrs May would need half – so 159 – to support her to stay in power.
Without enough backing, there would be a leadership contest.
How likely is a no confidence vote? Dr Simon Usherwood, a reader in politics at the University of Surrey, says there are two questions to consider.
“Are there enough Tory MPs out there who are sufficiently upset by the situation to lodge a request?
And there’s another question about whether it would be successful.
“There probably are enough potential requests out there, but a lot depends on momentum,”
says Dr Usherwood, who suggests Tory MPs do not actually want to bring down Mrs May.
“If this was a really fundamental problem, David Davis would have gone on Friday [after the Government’s Brexit proposals were agreed upon at Chequers].
That suggests this is his way of expressing unhappiness without triggering further discontent.”
Dr Usherwood also points out that arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has not submitted a letter of no confidence yet and so he is not pushing too hard to get rid of Mrs May.
He wants a policy change rather than for her to leave office.
On the second question, there is no clear alternative or successor to Mrs May should a leadership election be triggered so MPs might want to think twice before rocking the boat.
Graham Brady has so far refused to say whether he has received any letters from Tory MPs.
What is Mrs May thinking?
Since Mr Davis’ resignation, Mrs May will have been think strategically about his replacement to fend off a no confidence vote.
“The choice of Dominic Raab as replacement makes sense.
He’s a determined Brexiteer and not too problematic as a Brexit leader.
“Raab makes sense – he looks credible to Brexiteers and might calm troops enough not to make want to upset the vote.”
Mrs May will also need to think carefully how to minimise the damage of Mr Johnson resigning.
Dr Usherwood added: “If May wants to keep this contained, she needs to be soothing towards the backbench.”
Asked whether Mrs May would fight a no-confidence vote if one was called, a senior Number 10 source said: “Yes.”
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