— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) January 25, 2018
At least this takes the focus off the NHS
As we all, no doubt, know the rules of the Conservative Party state that a leadership vote of confidence amongst party MPs has to take place if 48 of them write privately to the chairman of the 1922 committee, Graham Brady, asking for such action.
There were rumours following the prime minister’s less than successful conference speech in October that such a move might be underway. That fizzled out when the blame was put on the former party chairman under David Cameron, Grant Shapps.
Today’s Sun’s Harry Cole is writing that something might be happening at the moment.
“.. One senior backbencher told The Sun the top Tory was “ashen faced” at the prospect of getting one more letter recently – which he has intimated could spark a bitter leadership election and plunge Brexit talks into chaos.
The party grandee’s terrified reaction suggests the number of letters he has already received may now have reached the mid 40s, as anger with “dull, dull, dull” Theresa May spirals on the Tory benches..”
If such a confidence motion was passed then Brady would have to call an immediate leadership election and under the rules the prime minister could not put herself forward as a candidate. IDS in October 2003 was booted out in such a move.
Clearly Theresa May has been in an extraordinary weak position since the day after the general election which she called and which resulted in the party losing its overall majority. But on the Monday after that Theresa May told backbench MPs that she had got the party into this position and she was going to get it out of it.
The view since then has been that Theresa May would not be allowed to fight the next general election but would be able to stay in place until the Brexit process had been finalised.
Once Brady has received the 48 letters the secret ballot has to take place within 24 hours which reduces the time for the whips to mount a campaign on the PM’s behalf.
Is this going to happen? I don’t know but something appears afoot.
On Betfair, as I write (0300), you can get 2/1 on TMay going this year. You can also get 8/1 that she’ll be out in Q1 2018.