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There’s no automaticity that the next Tory leader becomes Prime Minister

June 6th, 2019

Why Mrs May could end up remaining Prime Minister a lot longer than we think

The Guardian reports

Boris Johnson could avoid facing an immediate confidence vote in his premiership if he becomes Conservative leader, as ministers are considering whether to send MPs home early for their summer break before the new prime minister is announced.

Mel Stride, the new leader of the House of Commons, aroused suspicions that the Conservatives are plotting to put off a confidence vote for their new leader until September, as he refused to confirm when recess will start.

He said it was “not necessarily” the case that the new Conservative leader would have to appear in front of parliament before MPs go off on holiday until the autumn.

Ministers appear to be trying to get round the threat of a new Conservative leader failing to be able to form a government, if Johnson or one of the other frontrunners to succeed Theresa May loses the support of some Tory MPs or cannot win over the Democratic Unionist party.

Labour sources said they believe the government whips are planning recess to start potentially as early as July 19 – almost a week earlier than last year – while the Conservatives will not say exactly when the winner of their leadership contest will be announced, other than it will be in the week of July 22.

The move to delay a confidence vote until September would give a new leader the chance to ensure its confidence and supply deal with the DUP still stands.

However, it could mean that Theresa May would not be able to go to Buckingham Palace straight away and resign as prime minister. Her spokesman said May would only hand over the keys to No 10 when “she says to the Queen that she is stepping aside and believes that someone else can command the confidence of the House”.

This is something that Alastair Meeks has mentioned a few times that it only needs three Tory MPs to switch sides for the Tory/DUP majority to be wiped out and I’m fairly confident there’s more than three Tory MPs who will do whatever it takes to stop a no deal Brexit.

With the likes of Andrea Leadsom and Dominic Raab openly talking about acting like a modern day Charles I and proroguing Parliament to ensure (a no deal) Brexit on Halloween you can see why Parliament would have no confidence in certain winners of the Tory leadership race. I cannot see Parliament having confidence in someone committed to a no deal Brexit in October.

I think if Parliament declares it has no confidence in the new Tory leader we could see any of the following, a government of national unity to sort out Brexit, or more likely a new general election. So Mrs May ends remaining Prime Minister for the duration of the general election campaign whilst her successor as Tory leader fights the general election.

With the Lib Dems and Brexit party surging in the polls and the Tories hitting rock bottom in the polls there’s no desire for an early general election in the Tory party so Tory MPs might end up backing as leader someone who does not become tumescent over no deal, that should benefit Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock, and Rory Stewart.

This could have serious implications for several betting markets, I’m fortunate that most of my bets are on next Tory leader whilst I’ve been active in laying the next Prime Minister market. Given the complications of Theresa May’s exit markets I suggest if you’re betting on the next Tory leader/PM markets you check the precise rules/markets, different bookies can have slightly different definitions.

If you’re constitutional expert or lawyer this might be an even more exciting and profitable time for you. There’s a beautiful irony that Boris Johnson’s declaration that he would exit from the EU, deal or no deal, on Halloween might ensure he becomes Tory leader but stops him from becoming Prime Minister.

TSE

Update – Remember that Yes, Prime Minister maxim of never believing anything until has been officially denied.