Boris Johnson in jeopardy – what would it take for the PM to be ousted by his own party? | Political news



Boris Johnson’s landslide victory in the 2019 general election secured his position at number 10, but he can only stay in office with the backing of Tory backbenchers.

A leadership vote looks more likely as MPs react to the findings of the Sue Gray report into lockdown-breaking parties at Number 10 and Whitehall, released in late May, and the Met Police investigation that unfolded completed at the end of April.

Dozens of Tory MPs have publicly called on Mr Johnson to leave, increasing speculation that the 54 letters needed to trigger a leadership vote could soon be reached.

What would it take for the Prime Minister to be ousted by his party, and how would the process work?

Letters of censorship

Conservative MPs can send letters of no confidence to the Prime Minister at any time on the influential 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers.

The committee meets weekly when parliament is in session, with the rallies usually providing an indicator of backbench MPs’ support for the leadership, party leadership or major policies.

Often referred to as “the men in gray suits”, the 1922 Committee is led by an 18-member executive committee with a chairman elected by committee members.

MPs unhappy with the current direction of their party can submit letters of censure to the chairman of the committee, registering their disapproval.

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The Conservative party the rules state that at least 15% of Tory MPs must write a letter of censure to make a challenge to the leadership possible.

That figure currently equates to 54 Tory MPs due to submit a letter to the chairman of the 1922 committee, Sir Graham Brady.

The letters are delivered confidentially, so no precise total of the number of letters submitted to Sir Graham is publicly available. So he’s probably the only person who knows the real count.

In 2018, when the former Prime Minister Theresa May faced a vote of no confidence after the 48-letter threshold was reached, Sir Graham said even his wife did not know how many MPs had written to him.

At the time, only 24 MPs had publicly disclosed that they had delivered letters.

theresa may during covdi statement during pmqs
Theresa May survived an attempt to oust her in 2018

A vote on the party leadership

If Sir Graham receives 54 letters from Tory backbenchers, a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson would be triggered.

It will take place in the form of a secret ballot where all Conservative MPs will have to decide whether or not they support the current leader.

The ballot is usually open for a few hours on any given day, and Mr Johnson would need to secure the support of half his MPs plus one to survive.

If a vote were held and Mr Johnson were to win the support of the 180 MPs needed, he would be safe from a fresh challenge for another year.

If he lost, there would be a leadership contest and he would be banned from participating.

However, if Mr Johnson were simply to garner enough votes to allow him to stay, he could decide to step down of his own accord, automatically triggering a leadership contest.

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A leadership contest

If a leader of the Conservative Party does not obtain the required votes of confidence, a leadership contest will be held to replace him.

The 1922 Committee will set the timetable for the competition.

To enter the race, a Conservative MP must be nominated by eight colleagues.

If more than two MPs run and get enough nominations to run for the lead, a series of secret ballots will take place to narrow them down.

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The individual who receives the fewest votes will be eliminated after each round until there are two candidates remaining.

When only two MPs remained in the race, party members could make their final choice before a deadline set by the 1922 Committee.

The winner will become leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister if the party is in power and no general election is held.


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