What You Need To Know About Tonight's Vote Of No Confidence In Theresa May

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images
In case Brexit wasn't enough of a shambles already, the person leading negotiations with the EU on the UK's behalf – Prime Minister Theresa May – could soon be out of a job. She was meant to meet the Irish premier in Dublin today in a bid to amend her EU withdrawal agreement, but instead she'll be in London fighting for her leadership.
More than 48 Conservative MPs have written letters of no confidence in the prime minister, deeming her no longer fit to lead their party or the country. As a result, a vote of no confidence against her will take place on Wednesday evening in the House of Commons.
Advertisement
If you've been perplexed by talk about "48 letters" or the "1922 Committee" in the news or on social media this morning, or maybe you stopped following Brexit developments ages ago, here's what you need to know.
What is a no confidence vote?
In short, it means a sizeable chunk of the Conservative party wants someone other than May to lead the party, the Brexit process and the UK. Under Conservative party rules, more than 15% of the party's MPs without government roles – 48 people – would need to send a letter of no confidence to the chairman of the party's influential backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. Hence the term "48 letters" being bandied about this morning.
The vote will take place between 6pm and 8pm and the result will be announced about an hour later.
There was a bid for a no confidence vote in November which fell through, but May's decision to postpone Monday's parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal seems to have pushed many in her party over the edge.
What are the possible outcomes?
Either May wins or she loses. She needs the backing of at least 159 Conservative MPs and a majority of just one vote will be enough for her to stay in the job. If this happens, naysayer MPs will have to wait at least 12 months to challenge her leadership again.
If she loses, there will be a leadership contest. Any Conservative MP other than May will be able to stand for the position and will need two MP proposers. There will be a string of secret votes until there are two candidates remaining. Conservative party members will then decide between the final two hopefuls and the winner will lead the party. The British public will not have a say over who becomes their new prime minister.
Advertisement
Who might replace her?
There are a few names being touted but so far it's unclear, as no one has publicly thrown their hat in the ring. Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid and Amber Rudd are known to be seriously thinking about running, the Guardian reported. Dominic Raab is a bookies' favourite, while Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove's names have also been mentioned.
What does this mean for Brexit?
The whole process may take even longer. If she loses, some believe the new prime minister will have to delay Article 50, under which the UK is due to officially leave the EU on 29th March 2019.
According to the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg, the fact Brexit will have to be delayed will make up "a vital part of the case the prime minister's supporters will be making" as May faces the vote of no confidence. A new leader isn't expected to be in place until late January or February, Justice Secretary David Gauke told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, so whoever takes the role will need to ask the EU for more time for Brexit negotiations.
Meanwhile on Twitter, a mix of dismay, anger and sheer despair.
Advertisement

More from Global News