politics

How does Conservative leadership challenge work? Tory election rules for ousting Theresa May as Prime Minister


Theresa May is facing a rebellion from eurosceptics in her party after she announced plans to negotiate close trading ties with the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc next year.

Brexit Secretary David Davis and another minister, Steve Baker, resigned late on Sunday in a blow to the prime minister and some members of her party are now calling for her to be replaced.

If Mrs May loses a leadership challenge then someone else will become Tory leader and Prime Minister.

But it is likely that a new PM would feel the need to go to the country to get a mandate by calling a general election.

Either way if enough Tory MPs want her to go then she will have a battle to keep her job.

What needs to happen for there to be a leadership contest?

A leadership challenge can be triggered if 15 percent of members of parliament in May’s Conservative Party write a letter to the chairman of the party’s so-called “1922 committee”.

The Conservatives currently have 316 members of parliament (MPs) so 48 of them would need to write such letters to challenge May.

Once that threshold has been reached, the chairman will announce the start of the contest and invite nominations.


Could this happen to May?

The chairman of the 1922 committee is the only person who will know exactly how many members of parliament have submitted letters of no confidence.

But some eurosceptic members of parliament have started submitting letters to the committee chairman in protest over her Brexit negotiating strategy.

Chequers Brexit deal explained – and why it’s forced Boris Johnson and David Davis to resign

Theresa May agreed a major shift to soft Brexit at her country retreat Chequers – prompting her Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to quit.

The ‘third way’ plan for UK customs rules proposed keeping the UK closely aligned with the EU in a new “free trade area” for goods.

This will include sharing a “common rulebook” for all goods including agricultural and food products – and a possible compromise on migration.

To appease Brexiteers, Parliament would keep the right to block future changes to the trading rules. But David Davis said this olive branch was meaningless in practice.

The deal also proposes a “common rulebook” with the EU on state aid rules, and agrees to “step up” backup plans for a No Deal Brexit. A full White Paper was due to be published on Thursday 12 July.

What will happen during a no confidence vote?

Theresa May’s competitors dropped out leaving the way clear for her to become PM

If a no confidence vote is called then all serving Conservative members of parliament will be able to cast a vote for or against the serving leader.

If May wins any confidence vote she remains in office. If she loses, she is obliged to resign and barred from standing in the leadership election that follows.

Chequers Brexit deal explained – and why it’s forced Boris Johnson and David Davis to resign

Theresa May agreed a major shift to soft Brexit at her country retreat Chequers – prompting her Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to quit.

The ‘third way’ plan for UK customs rules proposed keeping the UK closely aligned with the EU in a new “free trade area” for goods.

This will include sharing a “common rulebook” for all goods including agricultural and food products – and a possible compromise on migration.

To appease Brexiteers, Parliament would keep the right to block future changes to the trading rules. But David Davis said this olive branch was meaningless in practice.

The deal also proposes a “common rulebook” with the EU on state aid rules, and agrees to “step up” backup plans for a No Deal Brexit. A full White Paper was due to be published on Thursday 12 July.

How quickly can a no confidence vote take place?

In the last no confidence vote against a sitting Conservative leader in 2003, the chairman of the 1922 committee announced he had received enough letters to trigger a vote on October 28 and the vote was held the next day.

What would happen if May lost the no confidence vote?

If May lost a no confidence vote then there would be a leadership contest.

If several names are put forward to lead the party, then a vote is held among Conservative MPs using the first past the post system to whittle down the field with the candidate with the fewest votes removed. Another ballot among Conservative lawmakers is then held until two candidates remain.

Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the race leaving the way clear for Theresa May

The final two nominees are then put to a ballot of the wider Conservative Party membership with the winner named the new leader.

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Crisis as Boris Johnson and David Davis resign

Following David Cameron’s decision to step down as prime minister and Conservative leader after the EU referendum in 2016, five candidates put their names forward.

The field was narrowed to May and then junior minister Andrea Leadsom but she pulled out of the race before members voted, leaving May to become leader unopposed.

Chequers Brexit deal explained – and why it’s forced Boris Johnson and David Davis to resign

Theresa May agreed a major shift to soft Brexit at her country retreat Chequers – prompting her Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to quit.

The ‘third way’ plan for UK customs rules proposed keeping the UK closely aligned with the EU in a new “free trade area” for goods.

This will include sharing a “common rulebook” for all goods including agricultural and food products – and a possible compromise on migration.

To appease Brexiteers, Parliament would keep the right to block future changes to the trading rules. But David Davis said this olive branch was meaningless in practice.

The deal also proposes a “common rulebook” with the EU on state aid rules, and agrees to “step up” backup plans for a No Deal Brexit. A full White Paper was due to be published on Thursday 12 July.



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