A no confidence move is highly risky for any plotters
One of the great jobs of returning from a longish holiday is reviewing how things have changed while you’ve been away and the biggest move over the past three weeks is how the Chequers Brexit plan is gathering support. Maybe the Mail was following rather than leading. TMay’s big gamble might just succeed.
What is this going to do to her future career prospects?
It is being widely said within the Conservative Party that after Brexit, March 29th next year, Mrs. May will go and there will be a leadership election. I’m not convinced. She’s mentioned a couple of times that her plan is to stay on and what is the party going to do if the woman who has by then delivered Brexit wants to stay put?
Are we really going to see an attempt to oust her if she makes it clear that she won’t go of her own accord?
To get rid of Mrs May 15% of MPs have to write to the chairman of the 1922 committee demanding a confidence vote. The key number is not the 15% of MPs but whether the desire to oust her is backed by 50% plus one of the Parliamentary party – 158. The downside for ousters is that if there is a confidence vote that she survives, even by just a single vote, Mrs May would be safe in the job for a further year. So those wanting her out could actually be giving her greater job security.
These latest rules were created when William Hague was leader in the first Blair government are totally different from that which is existed in Mrs Thatcher’s time something that many commentators don’t seem to appreciate.
The overwhelming factor in the event of a confidence vote will be who would be the successor and here the party is totally split.
If ousting May is perceived to increase the chances of Johnson becoming leader that will surely inhibit many CON MPs from voting for TMay to go in a confidence ballot.
The former mayor who uses terms like suicide vests to describe Mrs May’s Brexit approach has far less support amongst his parliamentary colleagues than might be appreciated.
I wonder as well if TMay might be helped by the “time never being ripe” for a leadership contest. If she went soon after March 29th that would conflict with the May locals. It was the “this is not the right time” element in the 2008-2010 period which helped Gordon Brown to struggle on. There was always a reason why a leadership election shouldn’t happen and eventually we got to the election itself.
The need for 158 CON MPs to back it and the consequences of a failed move make the no confidence option unattractive. It is no wonder that it hasn’t happened so far.
I’ve already lost money betting on this market (I was on a 2017 exit) that I’m not going to risk any more.