Little-known rule is another route to removing Theresa May via no-confidence vote
Since she survived a no-confidence vote by MPs last December, Theresa May has been stumbling along no less disastrously but at least felt secure from any further risk of being forced from her position by her party until the end of this year. Tory party rules do not permit MPs to mount another challenge until twelve months have elapsed.
However, it appears that her many critics have identified a little-known – and never before used – loophole that could allow them to topple her even before the end of this month.
The chairs of local Conservative associations – the equivalent of Labour’s ‘constituency Labour party’ local member organisations – are circulating a petition calling for an Extraordinary General Meeting to pass a no-confidence vote of no confidence in May. Only sixty-five association chairs need to sign the petition to force its staging and according to the Daily Telegraph as many as fifty have already signed.
If it goes ahead, this would be the first time in history that this provision in the Tories’ rules has been used.
Theresa May managed to survive the December vote thanks to the naked self-interest of many of her MPs, who voted to keep her in place in hope of promotion – or, just as likely, out of fear of a general election that any new leader might have felt obliged to call.
However, the Tory membership and therefore many association chairs are far more inclined to a ‘hard’ Brexit and don’t have MP salaries to lose – so in reality this move poses a far greater threat to May than she survived in December.
The move might have the effect of moving Theresa May to focus properly on the concessions she would have to make to Jeremy Corbyn to achieve an agreement on a better Brexit deal than she has repeatedly tried to inflict on the country. But Labour would be aware that any agreement remains meaningless unless she can find a legal way to prevent her successor from simply reneging on it through a so-called ‘parliamentary lock’.
If a no-confidence motion is passed by the emergency meeting of the
Tories’ ‘National Convention’, it is not a binding vote – but such a vote by what is left of the Conservatives’ national membership would put extreme pressure on May to step down.
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