How May survived 1922 committee meeting – and what may follow

may hapless
Theresa May

Theresa May faced a meeting with the Tories’ ‘1922 committee’ this evening – the body that by tradition makes and discards Tory leaders. Even though some political commentators had touted the meeting as the likely end of her tenure, she came through it intact – even easily. But her real ordeal may still be ahead.

May arrived, reportedly, to a good reception. The room was packed, with a full count of Tory whips there. Some Tory MPs were turned away – on the grounds, publicly at least, that there was no room for them.

The ’22’

The tenor of the meeting was mild to the point of blandness, with one Tory MP describing the room as “a petting zoo, not a lion’s den“.

Almost before it began, the meeting was over – MPs had behaved meekly, perhaps encouraged in their acquiescence by the presence of a full set of whips and nobody exiting the meeting seemed to have any sense that she had been damaged worse than she had been when she entered. This could, of course, change in an instant – letters from MPs to the committee can be sent in at any time..

Those Tory MPs who commented seemed to have found the meeting anticlimactic:

She spoke emotionally.”

There were no dissenting voices. Not one.”

The wrong maths

The reason the supposedly pivotal meeting passed off so quietly probably had little to do with any sudden surge in May’s popularity among Tory MPs and everything to do with arithmetic – two specific, simple sums.

Rumours abound that the required 48 letters expressing no confidence in May – enough to force a leadership contest. However, while the hard-Brexiteers are a numerically significant faction in the Tory party, they know they would very likely lose a confidence vote. The failure of so-called ‘rebels’ in the remain faction to actually rebel and the wish of the bulk of Tory MPs to cling to government would mitigate against a May defeat.

The Brexiteers’ strategy, therefore, is far more likely to centre on the Commons vote on May’s Brexit deal – likely to take place just before Christmas. To remove May, the Brexiteers would hope to turn the vote into a confidence vote – and borrow the votes of Labour MPs to defeat her. If May loses a confidence vote in the House, convention would require her resignation.

For Tory rebels to win a confidence vote within the party, they would need around 160 Tory votes against May. But given the tight balance between the parties, it would require only about 15 Tory votes against her deal to achieve the same effect in the Chamber.

Devils, details and false moves

Ultimately, if May survives to Christmas by winning a vote on her eventual deal with the EU, right-wing Labour MPs are likely to have handed it to her.

Some 4-12 Labour MPs – not the 45 touted by a few right-wingers in the hope of stiffening backbones among possible supporters – are likely to back May. This will mean that she needs either the DUP’s votes or those of the hardcore Brexiters if she is to carry the vote.

stella creasy
Stella Creasy

But Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy – a so-called moderate – has proposed an amendment to the government’s Northern Ireland bill that would add an abortion clause. In doing so, she has put into Theresa May’s hands a perfect sweetener to offer to the DUP, who will be utterly opposed to any such clause and will be even more against it being imposed on them by an English Labour MP.

If May whips her MPs to defeat Creasy’s abortion amendment to the NI bill, it could conceivably be an acceptable trade-off in the eyes of DUP MPs for not blocking the budget next week or the likely December EU vote.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The next couple of months will be key – and are likely to contain a few twists and turns yet. But it will be a bitter irony if Theresa May survives – and pushes a feeble, damaging Brexit deal through Parliament – because of a (presumably) rash move by an ardently pro-EU Blairite MP.

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  1. Idiot Efffs it up again for own self centred virtue signalling , not realising cos of abundant lack of intelligence, ( or maybe not and that’s the cunning plan ehh Baldrick ! ) that a Corbyn lead Govt would offer better than anything the Tory/Dup bigots ever could on the abortion rights issue .
    But the again Creasy is a RW blairite and has past form for undermining Socialist Labour .
    Another case for OS and de-selection .

  2. Any Labour mp who supports remain is by definition a neoliberal, not a moderate. Staying in the EU is only kicking the can down the road. It can’t survive in its present form and there’s no future for open borders. Europe will either drop the Euro or become a federation without the Southern states and the British people will have none of it. It’s time to recognise the futility of following Euro fanatics and the self interested and realise that global corporates and George Soros don’t have our best interests at heart.

  3. If May were to be dumped who would likely replace her – have there been any recent polls?
    Most of the MSM-flagged contenders seem to have as many enemies as supporters, Tories being Tories.
    Penny Mordaunt headed Bloomberg’s runners and riders, partly because she’s a lesser-known quantity – obviously the more you get to know a Tory the more you find to detest – but in the meantime, a fresh-faced young PM calling a snap GE during her honeymoon period might just win back a workable majority.
    Like Blair in a frock but with testicles.

    1. Penny Mordaunt is a vile human being.. Her expenses were astronomical. At the same time she cut benefits for the most vulnerable.

      It’s the kind of thing Tories do that makes your head spin because it’s impossible to understand such inhumanity whilst they look human.

      1. She is, they were, she did, it is, it does, it is, hardly 🙂

  4. Aww, Tories still love ‘mummy’ when the chips are down, what a surprise. A wave of nausea just washed over me. Tory infighting appears more to do with conflicts of wealthy vested interests, they have one shared one goal, to rip off the wealth of societies and their natural resources at home and abroad for the benefit of their constituency the parasitic 1% Rentier class and it’s enabling structures.

  5. Thing is, the Tories believe in power above all else. They won’t do anything to let go of power. We’ve got to take it from them. We have a great opportunity with Jeremy to do that. It’s a shame the Blairites don’t want Labour to be in power. But they’re political prostitutes of the highest order, willing to sell themselves to whoever pays the high most. Chuka is an absolute disgrace!

  6. Perhaps the nationalist Neo-Liberal Tories and international Neo-Liberal Tories will unite to try to prevent a Corbyn Left Wing Democratic Socialist Govt?
    I would hope May hangs on until Labour has selected many, many more left wing democratic socialist Parliamentary candidates.
    Please Jenny have ready made plans for selections in place as an election could still come at any time (the Tory rank and file want to Chuck Chequers) and we don’t want any more undemocratic appointments.
    We need Labour MPs who will fully support a JC transformation of society (as an example to other countries) and I would ask candidates to make this clear at selection meetings and for members to pose this question.
    Perhaps re N. Ireland we could negotiate with the EC a ”Special Island Staus’ (for 2 countries on one island) with no border between them but on entry to UK N Irish goods and people just come through but Eire (a foreign EC country) passports needed? (c) Labour – just an idea to be explored?

  7. So what we have learned is what we already knew, the Tories love, want and need power even to the detriment of the entire country, it’s plain, it’s evident it seeps out of their stinking ‘too posh to wash’ pores it has the vile stench of Tory-preservation at all costs and when push actually comes to shoving May out if their numbers are not there they won’t do it because they put themselves before queen and country. Yet and yet they are still able to fool some workers who seem to love being part of the doff cap tug forelock brigade to vote Tory, it’s total and utter ‘befuddling’ masochism!

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