What happens next as Theresa May faces no confidence vote

What could happen next? Victory means May can try to ‘finish the job’ of Brexit, defeat will force her into limbo as a ‘zombie’ Prime Minister until a new leader is found

  • Theresa May is in the political battle of her life as she faces a confidence vote 
  • She needs a simple majority of Tory MPs – 158 –  to vote for her to stay as leader
  • If she is stays she will get to follow through on her promise to deliver Brexit
  • If she loses she could be a ‘zombie’ PM for weeks as her successor is decided  

Theresa May (pictured outside No10 today)  is battling for her political survival today as Tory rebels have triggered a vote of confidence in her premiership

Theresa May is battling for her political survival today as Tory rebels have triggered  a vote of confidence in her premiership. 

If she wins, she will stay on as Tory leader and Prime Minister to finish the Brexit talks and try to get a deal over the line.

And if she loses, she would have to stay on in Number Ten for weeks as a ‘zombie’ Prime Minister for some weeks until her warring party pick a fresh leader.

Why is Theresa May facing a confidence vote?

The contest has been triggered because at least 48 Tory MPs have sent letters of no confidence into Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee – the body which represents Tory MPs.

Sir Graham is obliged to call a vote if 15 per cent of Tory MPs write to him calling for one – currently 48 MPs. 

What is Theresa May doing today?

The PM has scrapped her plans to fly  to Dublin for Brexit talks with the irish PM Leo Varadkar.

Instead she is staying in Westminster to plead with her Tory colleagues to back her in today’s vote.

She will address the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs at 5pm to lay out her id to stay on as their leader. 

How will today’s vote take place?  

The confidence vote will be held between 6pm and 8pm tonight. Tory MPs vote by casting their secret ballots in a box which will be placed in a room in Parliament, and they can only vote for these two hours. 

How many MPs does Theresa May need to win?

There are 315 Tory MPs who are eligible to vote, and the PM needs a simple majority to stay on as leader – meaning 158 is the magic number. 

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What happens if Theresa May wins? 

If Theresa May wins today then she cannot face a fresh challenge for another 12 months – meaning that she can stay on and finish Brexit.

Mrs May has vowed to stay on as leader if she win’s tonight’s vote by just one, but her critics on the Tory backbenches have warned that if 80 or more MPs vote against her, her position as PM will be untenable.

What happens if Theresa May loses? 

If Theresa May loses she must resign as Conservative party leader and is barred in standing for the leadership contest.

But she will have to stay on as Prime Minister while warring Tory MPs decide who her successor will be – leaving her a ‘Zombie’ leader.

She faces the humiliating prospect of being defeated tonight but having to travel to Brussels tomorrow for a crunch EU summit where Brexit is on the agenda. 

Or she could quit immediately and hand over to a caretaker leader – with her de facto deputy David Lidington tipped to be the man to fulfill this role. 

How does the Tory leadership contest work?  

Any MP – apart from the ousted leader – is eligible to stand in the subsequent contest.

Conservative MPs hold a series of ballots to whittle the list of contenders down to two, with the lowest placed candidate dropping out in each round.

The final two candidates are then offered to the Tory membership at large for an election. 

It is widely believed that the Brexiteer candidate will be the winner if it goes to a vote  of the membership.

How long could the contest last?

The Tory leadership contest can take up to 12 weeks, but if there is another contest party chiefs are determined to do it as quickly as possible as Brexit looms large on the horizon.

Sir Graham said in practice MPs could take part in a series of votes of a matter of days to whittle down the candidates to just two.

Tory MPs will face a final deadline of next Thursday to decide on the final two contenders for the leadership so that party members can choose a new leader over the Christmas holidays.

Sir Graham Brady (pictured in Westminster today) chairman of the 1922 Committee which represents Tory MPs, this morning announced that a confidence vote will be held which could see Theresa May toppled by the end of the day

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