After the Downing Street party scandal, Sue Gray’s damning report, public calls to resign from numerous ministers in his own party and getting booed by onlookers outside St Paul’s Cathedral on Saturday, Boris Johnson will finally be subject to a vote of no confidence tonight.
Sir Graham Brady confirmed this morning that enough Conservative MPs have now submitted formal letters questioning Boris Johnson’s leadership to force a vote: ‘I believe that the PM has misled the HoC’s [House of Commons] from the despatch box. That is a resignation issue,’ Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Hanet, wrote on Twitter. ‘I have made my own position clear. It is now a matter for my Conservative parliamentary colleagues to decide whether or not to instigate a vote of no confidence.’
But what is a vote of no confidence? And who will be Prime Minister if Boris Johnson loses? Here’s everything you need to know before the vote takes place tonight.
How does a no confidence vote work?
In order to survive the no confidence vote as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson needs to win the support of more than half of all the Tory MPs. The PM has written a letter to Conservative MPs to try and drum up support, writing: ‘Tonight is the moment to draw a line under the issues our opponents want us to talk about - and to focus instead on what really matters: the needs of the voters who sent us to Westminster. I am asking you for your support tonight because I know how much we can achieve together.’
The anonymous vote will take place in a meeting room on the first floor of the Palace of Westminster, where MPs will place their decision on whether Johnson is a fit leader into a ballot box. MPs are forbidden from taking any pictures inside the room in order to discourage aides demanding proof that certain party members have supported Johnson.
If MPs are unable to be at Westminster to cast their vote, they can nominate a colleague to vote for them by proxy. Ministers who are submitting a proxy vote have to also send an email to the 1922 Committee stating their intention by 4pm this afternoon.
When will we find out the no confidence vote result?
After the vote has taken place, Sir Graham will gather with MPs and journalists in the meeting room and will declare whether or not the Conservative Party has confidence in Boris Johnson before revealing how many votes were cast each side.
The vote is taking place between 6 and 8pm. So, the result will come at some point after that. ‘The votes will be counted immediately afterwards,’ Sir Graham said in a statement. 'An announcement will be made at a time to be advised. Arrangements for the announcement will be released later today.'
What happens if Boris Johnson wins the no confidence vote?
It is expected that Boris Johnson will have enough support to remain leader after the no confidence vote. According to Conservative Party rules, a vote is triggered when 15 per cent of the MPs write to the party's 1922 Committee demanding a change in leader. Currently there are 359 Tory MPs so only 54 party members have triggered the ballot and a number of high-profile MPs, including Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab, have already shown their support for the PM.
If Johnson does win, he’ll be safe from further challenges for the next year and will be able to remain as Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative Party. However, Theresa May resigned in 2018 despite winning the ballot as she felt she’d lost the support of the party.
Who will replace Boris Johnson if he loses the no confidence vote?
If Boris Johnson loses the no confidence vote, the Conservatives will pick two MPs they think should run the party. Then, 100,000 Conservative Party members will vote to pick their new leader from the two options and that person will be the new prime minister.
Previously, Rishi Sunak was dubbed the front runner to replace Boris Johnson, but his popularity has waned after questions about tax avoidance surfaced. According to the latest poll of Conservative Party members taken in May, MP for Wyre and Preston North Ben Wallace has the highest favourability (85%), followed by MP for Stratford-on-Avon Nadhim Zahawi (66%) and MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed Anne-Marie Trevelyan (65%).
Boris Johnson's favourability currently stands at -15%.