We’ve been seeing the signs of this coming for the past couple of weeks, but this morning it’s official. A sufficient number of members of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory Party (formally known as the Conservative Party) have submitted letters to the chair of their caucus calling for a confidence vote regarding the Prime Minister. They immediately moved to an open session of questions and answers with May prior to the vote. (The Guardian)
Conservative MPs have triggered a vote of no confidence in Theresa May, plunging the Brexit process into chaos as Tory colleagues indicated they no longer had faith in the prime minister to deliver the deal.
Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, has received at least 48 letters from Conservative MPs calling for a vote of no confidence in May. Under party rules, a contest is triggered if 15% of Conservative MPs write to the chair of the committee of Tory backbenchers.
A ballot will be held on Wednesday evening between 6pm and 8pm, Brady said, with votes counted “immediately afterwards and an announcement will be made as soon as possible”. Sources said an announcement could be made by 10pm.
There’s a five hour time difference between London and the east coast of the United States, so this vote should be wrapped up by three pm eastern time. They’ll announce the results (hopefully) a couple of hours later.
For those who don’t follow UK politics closely, the confidence vote isn’t held by the entire Parliament. It’s just a vote among the Tories. The person in charge of receiving the request letters is the chairman of the 1922 Committee. That committee is comprised of the members of the Tory Party, so it’s the equivalent of the GOP caucus in the House. Their chairman is basically the same as the House Majority Leader.
He didn’t announce how many letters were received. All we know is that it was more than the 15% required to trigger the vote. If a majority of the Tories vote in the negative, it will result in a no confidence vote and May will be ousted as Prime Minister, followed by the Tories electing a replacement. Traditionally, even if the PM receives a thin majority of support, they have stepped down anyway.
But will the vote go against her? BBC Politics reports that the members in the chamber seem to be rallying to May’s defense.
Vote of no confidence in Theresa May is "unhelpful, irrelevant and irresponsible" says Conservative Ken Clarke, to loud cheers in the Chamber
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) December 12, 2018
All of this, of course, is happening because of the debacle that May’s Brexit negotiations have become. She’s running out of time to have Parliament approve the deal she wrapped up with the EU and there’s no sign that she’ll have the votes to get it over the finish line. If that fails, Britain is heading toward a hard (“No Deal”) Brexit in the spring. Alternatively, they could take the offer made by Brussels this month and vote to either cancel Brexit entirely or send it back to the people for another referendum.
But even if May is ousted over her perceived failure to deliver, is anything going to change? It’s unlikely that the Tories will elect a Remainer to replace her, but none of the rest of her Brexiteers are likely to have any more luck hammering out an acceptable deal. If May gets the boot, it’s tough to see why anyone else would want the job at this point.