Brexiteers attempting to trigger a vote of no confidence in Theresa May are understood to be 11 letters short – despite confidently predicting they’d have them by Friday.
Tory critics of the Prime Minister need 48 votes – that’s 15 per cent of the party – to spark the motion to remove Mrs May, but sources confirmed they were still stuck at 37, according to The Sun.
Expectations had been mounting that Mrs May would have to face a Tory vote on Friday on the back of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s call to arms.
But so far only 23 MPs have declared publicly they want a vote of no confidence, while another 14 are believed to have handed their letters in privately.
Grant Shapps, MP for Welwyn Hatfield, Hertfordshire, implied he’d lost faith the PM’s Brexit plan. He could bring the figure to 38 if he hands in his no confidence vote
Steve Baker (pictured in Westminster yesterday) insisted he remained confident that 48 letters would be sent to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, and trigger a Tory party no confidence vote in Theresa May next week
Tory MP Adam Holloway was one of the latest MPs to go public with his letter of no confidence, posting on Facebook (pictured) the country needs new leadership
Failure to reach the threshold was acutely embarrassing for the Brexiteer group but Westminster still widely expects a vote next week.
Steve Baker, a top member of the Eurosceptic ERG block of Tory Mps, insisted he remained confident that 48 letters would be sent to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee.
Baker conceded that only Sir Graham knows for sure as he spoke out in a press conference on the steps of Westminster – in scenes reminiscent of yesterday when Brexit rebel figurehead Jacob Rees-Mogg launched his all out bid to topple May over her draft agreement to leave the EU.
Baker said he had been told by at least 48 MPs – and ‘probably a dozen more’ – they would prepared to demand a vote, but admitted only Sir Graham knew for sure because letters are normally confidential.
Who has sent letters of no confidence in May?
Letters of no confidence in Theresa May are confidential – but some of her strongest critics have gone public.
If 48 letters are sent a vote is called.
This is who has definitely sent a letter:
- Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Steve Baker
- Sheryll Murray
- Anne-Marie Morris
- Lee Rowley
- Henry Smith
- Simon Clarke
- Peter Bone
- James Duddridge
- Philip Davies
- Andrea Jenkyns
- Andrew Bridgen
- Nadine Dorries
- Laurence Robertson
- Martin Vickers
- Ben Bradley
- Adam Holloway
- John Whittingdale
- Maria Caulfield
- Mark Francois
- David Jones
- Marcus Fysh
- Chris Green
Among the latest to reveal a vote of no confidence demand is Mark Francois, the deputy of the Brexiteer European Research Group.
He issued his letter with the subject line ‘she just doesn’t listen’ as the group doubled down on attacks on the PM.
Mr Baker’s claim came 24 hours after Brexiteer ringleader Jacob Rees-Mogg hosted a press conference calling for Mrs May to be ousted.
Government whips have been canvassing views of Tory MPs in expectation of a vote on Mrs May’s future.
Some whips are understood to have stayed in London for the weekend instead of returning to their constituencies as loyalists try to fight off the attempt to remove the PM.
Mr Baker said: ‘People have been ringing me and they are telling me that they are putting letters in,’ he told BBC2’s Politics Live.
‘I have spoken to colleagues as well and I think we are probably not far off. I think it is probably imminent.’
He acknowledged he had sent a WhatsApp message to colleagues earlier saying that his count was over 48, with around a dozen probables, but admitted the number was probably inaccurate.
He said that only Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, knew the true figure.
‘My number will be inaccurate because people will withdraw letters, they will tell me they have put letters in when they haven’t, they will take them out and not tell you they have taken them out,’ he said.
Among the latest to reveal a vote of no confidence demand is Mark Francois, the deputy of the Brexiteer European Research Group.
He issued his letter today with the subject line ‘she just doesn’t listen’.
Maria Caulfield told her local BBC she had also filed one while former Cabinet minister John Whittingdale and Adam Holloway also declared they had written to Sir Graham Brady to call for a vote overnight.
Chris Green has also sent a letter, warning the deal will not deliver on the referendum.
Mark Francois (pictured yesterday in Westminser), the deputy of the Brexiteer European Research Group, issued his letter today with the subject line ‘she just doesn’t listen’
Mr Francois blamed the Prime Minister for alienating the DUP and threatening to destroy the Government
Mr Francois’s letter – hugely longer than most of the letters – accused pro-European civil servants of sabotaging the negotiation
Brexiteer ringleader Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured in Westminster yesterday) launched the putsch, sending his own letter and holding a chaotic press conference demanding Mrs May be replaced
Brexiteer ringleader Jacob Rees-Mogg launched the putsch yesterday, sending his own letter and holding a chaotic press conference demanding Mrs May be replaced.
He named Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, David Davis and Penny Mordaunt as ‘very capable of leading a proper Brexit’.
Mr Rees-Mogg’s deputy on the European Research Group issued a vicious letter headlined ‘She just doesn’t listen’.
He said: ‘The Prime Minister has been surrounded throughout this process by a Pretorian Guard of highly pro-European senior civil servants who, I believe, have never accepted the result of the referendum.
‘Instead they have helped to steer the negotiations in such a way that means, quite simply, we will not in fact leave the European Union but effectively remain within it.’
He added: ‘Now the details of the deal are available we can see how truly awful it is.’
Mr Francois accused Mrs May of having ‘appallingly treated and now alienated’ the DUP.
He blasted: ‘I therefore believe that in order for our party to survive in Government it is imperative we find a new leader who can command the respect of the DUP and therefore maintain the working majority in Parliament.’
Gravesham MP Mr Holloway has also gone public.
Chief whip Julian Smith was in Downing Street yesterday (pictured) as the Government prepares to fight off the attempted coup
Mr Holloway posted on Facebook: ‘My letter of No Confidence has now been delivered – with regret. Mrs May is a remarkable woman – just look at her fortitude today in the House of Commons, even more please remember her long career of public service.
‘But as we see from the events of today, you can not have someone leading a mission who does not believe in the mission. The country needs leadership.’
In another post he added: ‘The Prime Minister and the Civil Servants appear to have negotiated a ”deal” that is in my view the worst of both worlds, and one that treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the country.’
Mr Whittingdale confirmed to the Today programme: ‘Yes, I have sent a letter to Graham Brady.’
As he moved against the PM yesterday, Mr Rees-Mogg declared he believed the necessary 48 letters to trigger a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister would be submitted, but declined to put a timeframe on the process.
If Mrs May was rejected by MPs, a vote to choose her successor could be conducted in ‘not months but weeks’, he said.
Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured outside the Commons yesterday) sensationally launched his bid to remove Theresa May today threatening her position in the Commons before holding a press conference naming possible successors
In his letter to Sir Graham today, Mr Rees-Mogg reveals he asked the Chief Whip to tell Mrs May her time was up weeks ago
Asked why he was defying calls for party unity, he said: ‘People always call for unity when the policy they are following is wrong.
‘It is a standard pattern of Conservatives when they note that failure is in the air.’
He said that Dominic Raab should not be blamed for the deal negotiated with Brussels, as it was clear that the process was driven by Downing Street.
There was no point appointing a new Brexit Secretary, he said.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: ‘The key is, if 48 letters go in it shows there are 48 people who will not vote for this deal.
‘That in itself is a pretty powerful statement.’
He stressed that the European Research Group did not have a collective position on Mrs May’s premiership.
Asked what his message to the Prime Minister was, he said: ‘The Prime Minister said at the 1922 Committee after the election that she would serve as long as the Conservative Party wanted her to serve.
‘I think there are many people in the Conservative Party, not just in Parliament but in the country at large, who feel that her service now should come to an end.
‘She is a very dutiful person, she has served the country to the best of her ability but she has let us down in this deal.
‘It has not delivered on what she said she would do.
‘That is the key thing – it is trust that is at the heart of it. She didn’t do what she said she would.’
Asked if Mrs May had lied, he said ‘lied is a very harsh word’.
One senior Tory MP warned Mrs May appeared to be sacrificing the support of the DUP in a bid to push through a ‘nightmare’ Brexit deal.
They said Jeremy Corbyn would exploit the split with the Northern Ireland party to force his way into power.
Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister, went public today with a letter of no confidence he filed secretly last month
Brexiteer MP Henry Smith also revealed he had joined the revolt against the Prime Minister today
Cornish MP Sheryll Murray said she had also lost confidence in Mrs May’s Brexit policy and wanted a vote on her future
Long term critic Nadine Dorries said the ‘writing has been on the wall for some time’ and she had put in a letter ‘weeks ago’
They said: ‘We cannot survive without the DUP,’ they told MailOnline. ‘And this deal cannot get through unless sufficient Labour MPs vote for it.
‘Corbyn smells defeat and I’m sure he will not throw her a lifeline.’
Tory MP and Brexiteer Nadine Dorries said she ‘absolutely’ believes Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Tories, will have the letters by lunchtime today.
She said: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if they were already in.
‘There’s going to be more than 48, I’m sure of that, just by the number of people I’ve spoken to tonight. I think we will have the vote of confidence.
How Brexiteers would get rid of Theresa May
Brexiteers have attempted a coup against Theresa May in fury at her draft deal with the EU – but they will have to navigate Tory rules to force her out.
The Prime Minister insisted she plans to ‘see this through’ to make clear to the rebels she will not quit voluntarily.
This is how the Tory Party rules work:
What is the mechanism for removing the Tory leader? Tory Party rules allow the MPs to force a vote of no confidence in their leader.
How is that triggered? A vote is in the hands of the chairman of the Tory Party’s backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
A vote of no confidence must be held if 15 per cent of Tory MPs write to the chairman. Currently that threshold is 48 MPs.
Letters are confidential unless the MP sending it makes it public. This means only Sir Graham knows how many letters there are.
This possible delay could give Mrs May a ‘grace period’ where she knows a contest is imminent but not yet public knowledge.
A vote is in the hands of the chairman of the Tory Party’s backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady (file image)
How is a vote announced? There are few fixed rules but Sir Graham is likely to inform Downing Street or the Chief Whip and then make a public announcement.
Sir Graham is likely to check with the MPs who have sent him a letter before making an announcement in case any of them want to withdraw. This will happen secretly.
How will the vote happen? After it is announced, a vote will happen quickly, with Tory MPs invited to cast a secret ballot in a Commons committee room.
Voting will be open for one day and Sir Graham will announce the result at the end.
Brexiteers have attempted a coup against Theresa May
What needs to happen for Theresa May to win? Officially, Mrs May only needs to win a simple majority of Tory MPs – currently that is 158 MPs.
Politically, winning by one would be devastating. If more than 100 MPs vote against her, most observers think she would be finished.
What happens if she loses? Mrs May is sacked as Tory leader and Sir Graham will announce a leadership contest. She cannot stand in the contest.
She will probably stay on as Prime Minister until a replacement is elected but have no political power or authority to do anything.
What happens next? In a Tory leadership contest, any MP can stand with a proposer and seconder.
Tory MPs vote several times a week on the candidates with the last place candidate being removed from the race at each ballot.
When there are only two candidates remaining, a run off is held among all Tory members in the country.
How long will it take? The first phase depends on how many candidates there are. A large field could mean a fortnight or more of regular ballots.
In the past, the second round has taken anywhere from four to 12 twelve weeks – but some think a vote of Tory members could be finished in just a week.