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If it gets to a confidence vote then timings will make it harder for the Whips to defend Theresa

October 10th, 2017

Although the media has moved on she isn’t out of the woods yet

No doubt the Number 10 PR team is absolutely delighted that the media has moved on from speculating about TMay’s future as PM but it was a story that dominated the news for five full days.

She’s still there and showing resilience. But having been party chair at the time of the last move by CON MPs to oust a leader she’ll be acutely aware of the process that happened fewer than four weeks after the 2003 conference to the then leader Iain Duncan Smith.

The process then was brutal and incredibly fast. Letters from more than 15% of the Parliamentary Party were filed in the afternoon and the following morning MPs were voting on whether or not they had confidence in the leader. So there was a tight time-line.

So far TMay’s Whips have done a good job protecting the leader. It was said that they leaked that Grant Shapps was plotting which helped forestall it. But the period of danger is far from over. At any time the chair of the 1922 committee could be presented with the necessary letters from 48 CON MPs requesting a confidence vote.

This makes it much harder for the Whips to influence the outcome and is a point, no doubt, that those wanting her out are telling fellow MPs that they are trying to persuade to send letters.

What surprised me in 2003 was that IDS was ready to tough it out and go through with the vote rather than resigning beforehand. My guess is that TMay would do the same.

Mike Smithson