Vote of no confidence: What is the 1922 Committee and how likely is Boris Johnson to face a vote?

On January 19th, more Tory MPs have submitted no confidence letters about PM Boris Johnson.

Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 2:11 pm

After ongoing controversy about parties and events held at Downing Street and in Government buildings, it has been revealed that the Prime Minister and Rishi Sunak will pay fines for their part in the illegal lockdown parties.

Following the release of the Sue Gray report in full, Mr Johnson has 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, with many Conservatives leaving the room during and following Mr Johnson’s statement. But how likely is a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister and how does the process work? Here’s what you need to know.

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

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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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Will Boris Johnson face a vote of no confidence?

On April 12th 2022, it was announced by the Metropolitan Police that both Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak will pay fines following a Met investigation into the Partygate scandal. In January 2022, reports have suggested the threshold of 54 letters from MPs that would launch a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister could be reached on Wednesday.

There is also another way that Boris Johnson could be removed from office, which was already begun by the Liberal Democrats on Thursday January 13th. A motion of no confidence has been laid down by the Liberal Democrats, which is a way of testing whether the Prime Minister and their Cabinet still has the support of the House of Commons.

It has the power to trigger a general election and could see a new prime minister appointed. Under rules in place since 2011, if the Government loses, it has 14 days to try to win back the confidence of MPs through another vote.

At the same time, opposition parties can try to form their own alternative government. After a fortnight, if no resolution is found, an election is automatically called. However, few early day motions such as this have ever gone to a vote and this one is unlikely to be any different, with only 18 MPs backing it. Mr Johnson’s greatest threat is likely therefore from his own Tory MPs.

Additional reporting done by PA.