Vote of no confidence: What is the 1922 Committee, who is Sir Graham Brady, and what happens with a vote of no confidence?

The release of the Sue Gray report sparked fresh calls for Johnson to resign.

Enough Tory MPs have requested a vote of confidence in Boris Johnson to trigger a contest, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady has announced today.

Initially sparked by the controversy about parties and events held at Downing Street and in Government buildings, the release of Sue Gray’s report in full revealed the extent of the Downing Street parties and the behaviour of government officials. It also renewed fresh calls for Johnson to resign, ones that first began when it was revealed that the Prime Minister and Rishi Sunak will pay fines for their part in the illegal lockdown parties.

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Following the release of the Sue Gray report in full, Mr Johnson maintained that he never lied to Parliament and has showed no signs of resigning, despite fresh calls for him to do so. One Tory MP even called on the rest of his party to withdraw their support from the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, with many Conservatives leaving the room during and following Mr Johnson’s statement.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson "categorically" rejected claims by his former chief aide, Dominic Cummings, that he lied to parliament last week about a Downing Street party held during a strict lockdown. Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP via Getty Images.

Now that there are enough MPs requesting a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, how does the process actually work? Here’s what you need to know.

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Read more: How many parties at Downing Street and who attended?

What is the 1922 Committee?

The 1922 Committee got its name from a meeting of Conservative lawmakers that took place 100 years ago, in 1922. Their actions saw the end of the coalition government at the time and the group has gone on to play a decisive role in Tory leadership since then, including sparking the resignation of Margaret Thatcher.

All eyes are on No. 10 as the row over Downing Street parties during lockdown continues to make waves. Photo: Rob Pinney / Getty Images.

Today, the 1922 Committee is used to refer to a line of communication between Conservative leadership and rank-and-file MPs. MPs may write letters to the Chairman to state that they believe a change in party leadership is needed, known as letters of no confidence. If 54 letters reach the Chairman, then they must call a vote of no confidence.

If such a vote were held and the Prime Minister lost, they would then have 12 months of immunity from future no confidence letters. If they lose, a leadership contest would begin with the previous Prime Minister unable to run.

Who is Sir Graham Brady?

Sir Graham Brady is the current Chairman of the 1922 Committee and therefore only he knows how many letters have been received for sure.

However, some MPs do choose to go public, with seven calling for Mr Johnson’s resignation on Monday January 17th and a further 12 letters confirmed on Wednesday January 19th.

What happens with a vote of no confidence?

A vote of no confidence has now been triggered. If half of the MPs vote that they do not hold confidence in Mr Johnson’s leadership, then he will be ousted. However, as the rules currently stand, if Mr Johnson wins a confidence vote, he cannot be challenged again for 12 months.

Nonetheless, Mr Johnson has lost widespread support, both inside the House of Commons and out. As well as facing trouble on his backbenches, Mr Johnson also faced public backlash during the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend, including being booed on Friday by some sections of a crowd during his arrival at a thanksgiving service for the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Tory fears about their leader’s standing among the public were also likely to have been further fuelled by polling carried out ahead of the Wakefield by-election by JL Partners. The survey found the Conservatives could lose the key battleground seat, which was one of tens of constituencies Mr Johnson took from Labour in the so-called Red Wall during his 2019 landslide general election win, by as much as 20 points to Sir Keir Starmer’s party this month.

Additional reporting done by PA.


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