Why 105 is the magic number for Tory Brexiteers by Mike Hough

On Tuesday Theresa May will bring her deal with the EU back to Parliament for the supposed ‘Meaningful Vote 2’. The Prime Minister will lose this vote. And probably quite considerably. With this loss factored in, the real question focusing minds is what happens next? Well, immediately on Wednesday the PM will hold a vote on whether to keep No Deal on the table. This vote and its implications are what I would like to focus on.

So why so important? Well, firstly because it will provide us with an insight into the Parliamentary Conservative Party with the Party split between those who want to keep No Deal on the table and those who would like to remove the option. These splits go right to the very top of the party.

As a result, this places the PM in a difficult bind. Having been bounced into holding this vote by Remainer Cabinet Ministers, she now has the unenviable decision of deciding whether to whip the vote. Whipping either for or against No Deal will lead to resignations. The simplest solution is therefore perceived to be to offer a free vote. Yet this is not without its problems.  Any offer of a free vote on a matter of this significance will highlight an almost absolute loss of control and authority.

This then moves us onto leadership. If you believe the Sunday papers, the main protagonists in the next Tory leadership race believe this contest to be imminent. Wednesday will represent the next opportunity to assess these candidates and the different factions in the party. So how about 105 and what is its significance?

Well, there are 314 Conservative MPs in Parliament. In any leadership race before handing over the vote to the members, MPs whittle the candidates down to the final two. 105 votes is the number of votes a candidate needs to guarantee themselves a place in the final two. If on Wednesday more than 105 Tory MPs vote in favour of keeping No Deal on the table the Brexiteers are in business. It would indicate that if the Brexiteers can agree on a single candidate to unite behind they would have the votes to get that candidate into the final two in any upcoming contest.

For this reason, on Wednesday I will not be looking at the result of the No Deal vote, but rather the numbers.

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