Labour To Call Vote Of No Confidence In UK Government – What Does That Mean?

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Labour are today looking to call for a vote of no confidence in the Government after the Conservative Party announced that a new leader wouldn’t be appointed until 5th September at the latest [1]BBC News: Next Conservative leader and PM to be unveiled by 5 September meaning that Boris Johnson could stay on as Prime Minister for almost another two months.

Didn’t Johnson Just Face A No Confidence Vote?

Yes he did, but that was just amongst Conservative MPs and he won that 211 to 148[2]The Guardian: Boris Johnson no-confidence vote: prime minister wins by 211 to 148 but 40% of Tory MPs fail to back him – as it happened – losing the confidence of a large number of his MPs.

The vote of no confidence that Labour is tabling is a vote of the whole of the House of Commons. It needs a simple majority for it to pass but as the Conservatives have a majority of 66 seats[3]Institute For Government: Government majority there would need to be a large number of Conservatives to vote against the party in order for it to be successful.

When Will The Vote Happen?

If Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, tables a vote of no confidence in the Government, there is a debate where each side is able to state their case and then a vote takes place.

Depending on when the debate happens and what time they finish, the vote could be today and if not then tomorrow (13th July 2022) at the latest.

As we said above, if the vote receives a simple majority – even of a single vote – then the motion of no confidence is passed and the Government have 14 days to form a new government and if they can’t within that time frame it will trigger a general election[4]Voting Counts: What is a Vote of No Confidence?.

Why Would A Vote Of No Confidence Be Called Now?

Labour are concerned about what Johnson will do in his remaining time in power as he still has the ability to push legislation through parliament. Johnson has promised not to do so, but he’s not particularly known to keep his promises.

Also, as the Conservatives are fighting it out amongst themselves over who should be the new leader, it’s unclear whether they’d be able to form a coherent government within the 14 days time frame – which is what I suspect Labour want.

According to a recent YouGov Poll[5]YouGov: Latest YouGov Westminster voting intention figures, Labour have a massive lead in the polls over the Conservatives and they’d want to capitalise on that as soon as possible – especially considering the next general election isn’t due to be held until January 2025.

Recommended  Project 2025 Part 1: Background
YouGov Westminster voting intention - 29% Conservative, 40% labour, 15% Lib Dem
YouGov Westminster voting intention – 29% Conservative, 40% labour, 15% Lib Dem (source)

When Was The Last Motion Of No Confidence Vote?

Jeremy Corbyn called for a no confidence vote in Theresa May’s government in 2018 after she failed several times to win parliamentary backing for her Brexit deal[6]The Guardian: Jeremy Corbyn demands vote of no confidence in Theresa May.

The debate happened the following day after the motion was tabled and the incumbent government won 325 to 306 and so stayed in power.

What Happens If The Motion Doesn’t Pass

It’s yet another “get out of jail free” card for Johnson and will mean that he’ll stay on as leader until the voting is finished.

There are currently leadership 10 candidates announced so far (with a couple more still to announce if they will stand or support another candidate) so there will be several rounds of voting to whittle the field down to the last two (See: How the Conservative Party leadership elections work) and then the ballots go out to the members so depending on how long this process takes, Johnson still has plenty of time to do whatever he wants.

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