THE last Prime Minister to lose a vote of no confidence was James Callaghan, after it was tabled by the Conservative opposition led by Margaret Thatcher in 1979.
He was forced to hold a General Election and the Tories regained power. But what is a motion of no confidence, and who can put one forward?
What is a motion of no confidence?
Since the Fixed Term Parliament Act came into effect, there are now just two ways of expressing no confidence in the Government.
These are: Motions initiated by the Government, or motions initiated by the opposition.
Vote of no confidence by the Government
This is effectively a threat of dissolution by the government itself, which persuades backbench MPs to support a bill.
If the Government loses, a General Election could be triggered, but it’s more likely to end in the resignation of the leader.
May survived despite a third of MPs voting against her, though she resigned five months later on May 24, 2019.
2) Vote of no confidence by the Opposition
This involves a motion of no confidence being moved in the House of Commons by the Opposition, with the wording “that this House has no confidence in HM Government”.
The backing of a majority of MPs would topple the Government – it only requires one more MP to vote in favour than against.
Who can initiate a vote of confidence?
Under Tory party rules, a confidence vote is triggered if 15 per cent of its MPs write letters of no-confidence to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee.
When is a General Election triggered from a vote of no confidence?
If a vote of no confidence is backed by a simple majority of MPs, the government will be toppled.
If a new government with the support of the Commons cannot be formed within two weeks, an early General Election is called.
It’s one of only two ways in which an early General Election may be triggered under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011.
Only a no confidence motion tabled by the official leader of the opposition will automatically get allotted time for debate and a Commons vote.
It’s up to the Government to decide whether to grant the motion from the smaller opposition parties – which is highly unlikely.
If the Prime Minister was to lose a vote of no confidence in the Commons it would trigger a General Election.