How would the Tories kick Boris out? Powerful backbench 1922 committee chief must get letters from 54 MPs to spark confidence vote… but might only have a handful so far
- Boris Johnson facing calls for his resignation from Tory MPs over ‘Partygate’ row
- To trigger a confidence vote 54 need to send letters to the 1922 committee chair
- Last time the mechanism was used was against Theresa May – but she survived
Boris Johnson is desperately fighting to cling on to power as the Partygate row rages.
Allies have insisted there is no prospect of the PM resigning, despite admitting that he attended a boozy Downing Street bash at the height of lockdown in May 2020.
Deputy PM Dominic Raab has said the idea of Mr Johnson exiting is ‘daft’, as the government awaits the results of a probe into alleged Whitehall lockdown breaches by top civil servant Sue Gray.
But Tory anger is growing with some MPs openly calling for Mr Johnson to go.
Barring resignation, there is a clear process for ousting and replacing the leader – and rebels will be checking the details in case they decide to act.
What is the mechanism for removing the Tory leader?
Conservative Party rules allow MPs to force a vote of no confidence in their leader.
Much of the responsibility rests in the hands of the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
He is responsible for receiving letters from MPs saying they want to trigger a vote.
And when he has been notified by 15 per cent of Tory MPs he put the mechanism in motion. There are currently 360 Conservatives so that threshold is 54 MPs.
Boris Johnson is desperately fighting to cling on to power as the Partygate row rages
Much of the responsibility rests in the hands of the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady
How many Tory MPs have sent letters so far?
Letters are confidential unless the MP sending it makes it public.
That means only Sir Graham knows how many letters there are at any one time – and he is famously secretive about the numbers.
Only a handful of MPs have publicly called for Mr Johnson to go, although it is possible others have sent letters privately.
Estimates from Tories range from four to dozens, but few believe they are anywhere near 54 at the moment.
What happens when the threshold is reached?
A yes-or-no vote is held, with the leader technically only needing to win support from a simple majority of MPs.
If they win, the leader is then immune to challenge for a year.
However, in reality, a narrow victory would be unlikely to be enough to stay in post.
What happens if the leader loses?
The leader is sacked if they do not win a majority of votes from MPs, and a leadership contest begins in which they cannot stand.
However, they typically stay on as Prime Minister until a replacement is elected.
In a leadership contest MPs whittle down the field of contenders to two before party members have the final say.
The last confidence vote was held in December 2018 when, after months of speculation, enough MPs decided they no longer had faith in Theresa May’s leadership. Mrs May won, but was forced out the following summer (pictured)
When was the mechanism to replace the leader last used?
The last confidence vote was held in December 2018 when, after months of speculation, enough MPs decided they no longer had faith in Theresa May’s leadership.
She won the contest 200 votes to 117 – making her immune to another challenge for a year.
But she was forced to announce her resignation the following spring amid another insurrection over Brexit, paving the way for Mr Johnson to take the helm.
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