Prime Minister Theresa May will face a vote of no confidence this evening, now more than 48 Conservative MPs (i.e. more than the required 15%) petitioned for such to the 1922 Committee. It seems the ‘backbench drivers’ are now reaching for the wheel after May took one too many wrong turns, postponing the futile Parliamentary Brexit vote earlier this week. This frustrated move to vote seemed almost inevitable but the success of it is far from certain; the 48 dissenters will need at least another 110 Conservative MPs to vote alongside them to reach the required simple majority.
In the hours since the announcement, there are already more outspoken MPs supporting the PM (or at least standing against a vote at this time) than the malcontents that called for the vote. Twitter is full of supporting statements like this from Geoffrey Cox that “This is no time for the self indulgent spasm of a leadership election. Nothing fundamental will be altered by it, This is a time to show loyalty and discipline in supporting the PM in discharging the duties of government.” echoing what Mrs May said this morning in her statement to the press that, changing Conservative leadership now would "put our country's future at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it". Public opinion seems to back the PM, as gauged by online betting odds, putting her chances of surviving around 80% at the time of writing.
Still, with the challenging road ahead, whichever side comes out on top, it will be nothing more than a pyrrhic victory. Moreover, there are the obvious similarities with the 1990 vote against Maggie, who resigned anyway after prevailing against a no-confidence vote – knowing her leadership was rudderless regardless. Much the same could be said of the prospects for the Brexit vote, irrespective of who steers the remaining few days of negotiations.
The vote is scheduled for between 6pm and 8pm tonight, which in a cruel twist of fate is just before the Conservative Party Christmas party. If there’s one job less desirable than May’s at the moment, it would be that of the poor intern in charge of the seating plan for tonight and what may end up being more of a Christmas parley.