Here we go then.
Confidence in Theresa May as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party (and therefore, Prime Minister) has been challenged by at least 48 of her colleagues. The magic number, talked about for months, has finally been breached and Sir Graham Brady contacted the Prime Minister last night to inform her. They agreed the vote should be held as soon as possible, and that will be tonight. Finally I have something to write about on my lunch hour.
So how will she fare?
Well, I have a sneaky feeling that this won’t be as straightforward as anybody thinks. Whilst actual confidence in the Prime Minister within her party, Parliament and the country at large is probably close to zero, actually winning a confidence vote will be, I think, quite easy. The political variables involved in such a process do not lend themselves to accurately reflecting reality.
It has taken a good while to get 15% of Tory MPs to trigger this ballot – they now need 50% to actually vote no confidence. Whilst they will almost certainly get a lot more than 15%, the jump to 50% is enormous.
The vacuum that would be left may make several factions keen to leave in her in place, worried as they would be by who or what would replace her. I’ve said for a long time, the biggest strength Theresa May has is her supreme weakness. That is to say, in normal times, she would be considered the worst option – now, however, there is nobody obviously ready to step in, no winning ideology ready to command a majority. If she were stronger, there would be a bigger clamour to depose her and provide the kind of organising necessary to do so. This attempted ousting is slapdash and desperate.
Whether she could win this but still survive a Commons confidence vote is highly questionable. Her majority is so tiny and even if just the letter writers were to vote against her, that would destroy her premiership instantly. But would anyone dare vote against her in that scenario? It’s one thing voting against when you know your party will still be in power, but knowing you would be triggering a general election? Very different story.
As always, I point out my appalling record of political predictions before encouraging you to pay the slightest attention. Generally you can take whatever I say and believe the opposite.
But today, I think I might have the result right. Of course I do. So in the spirit of aiming to be at least a bit wrong, I’ve also predicted the numbers.
What do you reckon? Will she stay or will she go?
There are 315 Conservative MPs currently in the House of Commons, meaning she needs 158 to back her as leader.
Confidence – 207 (65.7%)
No Confidence – 108 (34.3%)
Will she continue as Prime Minister even if she loses by 1 vote?
Will she face a vote of No Confidence from the Commons before the Brexit vote?