Article by Mike Hough
This week Westminster went into overdrive with rumours of an imminent no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister. This was initiated by a series of damaging front-pages for the Prime Minister in the Sunday newspapers and ended with speculation on Tuesday morning that the 48 letter threshold that would trigger the vote had been reached.
However, this prospect was quickly quashed when chair of the 1922 committee Sir Graham Brady told friends “he was not visiting Downing Street to tell the Prime Minister there is to be a vote of no confidence.” Furthermore, the Prime Minister’s appearance later in the week before the backbench 1922 committee turned into a damp squib with no sign of any reported challenge.
It is clear many Conservative MP are unhappy with the Prime Minister and would ideally like a change in leadership. However, it is unclear how many have handed in letters demanding this vote. At the Conservative Party Conference Sir Graham Brady suggested “the distance between what some of my colleagues say they might have done and what they actually have done can be considerable.” Maybe some MPs who have claimed to have handed in letters have not done so?
Additionally should the threshold be reached for a vote there is no guarantee that the Prime Minister would lose. The internal rules of the Conservative Party clarify if May was to win he vote she could not be challenged for another year. This could be a possible reason as to why some supposed rebels are hesitating and not handing in their letters.
This weekend, as every weekend for as long as I can remember there will be rumours about the number of letters that have been handed in. Rebel Conservative MPs will brief journalists that this will finally be the week when the vote will be triggered. I am sure there will be the now traditional lurid and graphic headlines.
Yet all of these stories will be futile. Only one man, Sir Graham Brady knows the amount of letters that have been handed in. On this subject he is the only one that matters. The number of letters could be at 47 or alternatively could be far lower. We just don’t know. So rather than speculating all we can do is wait for an announcement from Sir Graham Brady whenever it may come.
But will this stop the stories though, probably not unfortunately!