Rumours abound that a leadership challenge may be forthcoming. But the system that would be required to depose Theresa May could be strengthening her positionby Mark Wallace / January 26, 2018 / Leave a comment
As befits the most senior Conservative backbencher, Sir Graham Brady has a nice office. It’s a corner room, high up in Portcullis House, which affords its occupant rather more space than some of his colleagues and a wonderful view. Somewhere within that room sits a stack of extremely important letters.
In his capacity as Chairman of the 1922 Committee, the representative body of backbench Tory MPs, guarding those letters is Brady’s most solemn duty. Each one represents a Conservative MP’s formal request for a vote of no confidence in their leader.
Under the Party’s rules, one such letter on its own has no effect—but if the total passes the key threshold of 15 per cent of the Parliamentary Conservative Party, then a confidence ballot of MPs is automatically triggered.
The precise number of letters therefore matters a lot. In 2003, it only took 25 MPs to trigger the ballot that defenestrated Iain Duncan Smith. Today, with many more Tory MPs, the threshold sits at 48.
Crucially, only Brady knows how many letters are in his possession. Once submitted, he holds a letter indefinitely, unless its owner withdraws it. Occasionally people choose to go public, as Andrew Bridgen did when he wrote to Brady in 2013 and took his letter back seven months later, but normally the submission and withdrawal of letters happen in comple…