More Conservative MPs have put forward a letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson, as calls for him to step down as prime minister continue.
ries Andrew Bridgen and Elliot Colburn confirmed on Monday that they have submitted letters of no confidence, joining a growing number of colleagues.
It comes as reports of potentially more number 10 coronavirus breaches are emerging following the conclusion of the Metropolitan Police investigation and the report of official Sue Gray.
For a prime minister to leave, the incumbent party must resign, their party must lose the next general election, or they must lose a vote of no confidence.
Since different parties have different rules, here’s how a conservative prime minister can be impeached.
– What are the conservative rules for a vote of no confidence?
Mr Johnson has shown no signs of being ready to quit and a general election is scheduled for 2024 meaning those options are not possible.
But a Conservative Party leadership contest could be unleashed if Johnson loses a confidence vote among his own MPs.
A total of 54 letters of no confidence from Tory MPs, 15% of the parliamentary party, would have to be submitted to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Backbench MPs, in order to vote.
Letters from MPs are kept by Sir Graham unless withdrawn, and he keeps the number secret.
If the 15% threshold is reached, he will announce a vote of no confidence.
At least 50% of Tory MPs must vote “no confidence” to make the Prime Minister lose.
A leadership contest would then begin, in which Mr Johnson could not run for office.
If he survives, he will be given a 12-month reprieve from future bids of no confidence.
More than 20 MPs have publicly said they want to vote, although it is not clear whether all of them wrote Sir Graham.
Meanwhile, others may have posted a letter without reporting it, making the exact numbers hard to figure out.
– How does a Tory leadership contest work?
The competition takes place in two phases.
In the first phase, Conservative MPs put themselves forward as candidates.
All Conservative MPs then vote in a series of rounds to reduce the number of candidates until only two are left.
In the second phase of the contest, the two remaining candidates will be voted on by members of the Conservative Party.
Boris Johnson won the leadership contest against Jeremy Hunt in 2019, following the resignation of Theresa May.
– What is a trust movement?
A confidence vote is a way to test whether the Prime Minister and their government still have the support of the House of Commons.
Opposition parties can submit such a motion and, if there is sufficient support, it can be chosen for debate in the House of Representatives before it is voted on.
Under rules in force since 2011, if the government loses the vote, it has 14 days to try to regain the confidence of MPs by voting again.
At the same time, opposition parties may try to form their own alternative government.
If no solution is found after fourteen days, an election will be held automatically.
During the Brexit deadlock, Theresa May survived a confidence vote in January 2019 after Labor and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn asked for it.
The Liberal Democrats filed a no-confidence vote against Boris Johnson’s government in January, shortly after the partygate allegations first emerged, but it did not receive sufficient support.
Even when a poll is taken, MPs tend to vote along party lines when it comes to a vote that could topple the government.
Given Johnson has a working majority of 77, it’s unlikely that even a remarkable number of MPs who rebel against that norm over the partygate affair will topple him.
– Will the Prime Minister survive?
Mr Johnson has made a career of sailing close to the wind and has refused to resign despite several waves of MPs calling on him to do so.
Mr Bridgen, who resubmitted his letter of no confidence after withdrawing the original in March due to the invasion of Ukraine, suggested Monday that the number may now be “close” to a vote.
But even if there is a vote, 179 of the 357 current Conservative MPs would have to vote “no confidence” to trigger a leadership election.
If Mr Johnson avoids or survives a vote of no confidence, his authority will still be badly damaged and he will be vulnerable to other crises, such as the rising cost of living.