Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), which is comprised of around 50 Conservative MPs in favour of a hard Brexit, has penned a letter to the head of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady, calling for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May.
The move comes after the UK Prime Minister struggled to find support for her withdrawal agreement with the EU, with senior cabinet members including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey resigning after being unable to back May’s plan.
Rees-Mogg made his intentions known to the in the House of Commons on Thursday saying: ‘As what my right honourable friend says and what my right honourable friend does no longer match, should I not write to my right honourable friend the member for Altrincham and Sale West?’
Letter of no confidence
In his letter to the 1922 Committee Rees-Mogg outlines his reasoning for seeking a vote of no confidence in the prime minister:
‘Regrettably, the draft withdrawal agreement presented to parliament today has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the prime minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative party manifesto.’
He argued May went back on promises made in her 2017 election manifesto which stated that the UK would leave the customs union, only for the country to remain via a backstop that would give Britain no authority to set its own tariffs.
‘It is also harder to leave this backstop than it is to leave the EU, there is no provision equivalent to article 50 of the Lisbon treaty,’ he added.
What is the 1922 Committee?
The 1922 Committee is comprised of Conservative backbench MPs who have the power to trigger a motion of no confidence in the party’s leadership.
To push forward with a vote of no confidence the committee must receive letters from 15% of Conservative MPs – around 48 individuals.
If that threshold is reached and a vote of no confidence is held, the prime minister could remain as leader so long as she is able to gain majority support from members of her own party.
If May can survive the process she will be granted a year’s immunity from facing another vote of no confidence.
But if the prime minister was forced to step down it would spark a leadership contest that would put Brexit plans on hold and see Westminster plunge into chaos until a new Conservative premier emerges.