Douglas Ross calls for Boris Johnson to resign over party scandal
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In a carefully worded apology today, Mr Johnson explained he was at the Downing Street lockdown party but “implicitly believed” it was for work purposes. People have proven unwilling to accept his statement so far, most notably MPs within his own party. Some have asked for him to resign, and rumours have suggested others are gearing up for a no-confidence vote.
How does a vote of no confidence work?
In a general sense, British legislature uses a vote of no confidence to test support within the House of Commons.
A ruling Government must have explicit backing from the majority of the legislature, and if an event shakes this confidence, they become unfit to govern.
MPs decide whether or not they continue to hold power and who might replace them.
While any member can introduce the motion, only one made by the leader of the opposition – in this case, Sir Keir Starmer – receives a guaranteed debate.
The debate will end in two ways, with a Government victory or defeat.
The former outcome means a majority rule that ministers can continue governing as before, while the latter would force them, and the Prime Minister, to resign.
The majority needed is a simple one, more than 50 percent of lower house MPs compared to the two-thirds for other acts such as calling a General Election.
A loss would require the house to decide whether an alternative Government is ready to take the reins.
If there isn’t one, existing ministers have two weeks to convince the chamber they can still govern.
At this stage, the debate opens out to three potential new outcomes, the first being Government success, keeping Mr Johnson and his ministers in power.
An alternative Government that wins a vote of confidence can stay in power, while deadlock requires a general election seven weeks after the vote.
Those latter two options would see the Prime Minister’s cabinet gone and potentially a Labour replacement.
But another vote within Conservative ranks could keep the party in power with a new PM.
Mr Johnson needs support from his party to continue leading their elected MPs, specifically the 1922 Committee.
The collection of backbench MPs, which includes a who’s who of Tory grandees, may accept letters from dissenting members.
Those within the party who feel the Prime Minister can no longer do his job may send notes of no confidence to the committee.
If 15 percent of the 361 who currently reside within the House of Commons send one (approximately 54), they can call a leadership challenge.
In that case, Mr Johnson would lose his premiership to one of his peers.
Rumour has it that the 1922 Committee has called a meeting today as MPs reveal they have sent letters.
Among those who have sent one is Sir Roger Gale, a veteran Tory member who called for a leadership contest.
Speaking to Sky News, he said the “time has come” for Mr Johnson to either “go with dignity” or for the 1922 Committee to “intervene”.
Prominent members of the committee itself have made similar calls.
William Wragg, who is currently serving as vice-chairman, also voiced his displeasure at the Prime Minister’s actions.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he said a “series of unforced errors” have damaged the party and made his position “untenable”.
He revealed that his colleagues were “frankly worn out” of defending the “indefensible”.
As a result, he told the station he could not see a path to forgiveness.
Mr Wragg added: “I’m afraid it is the inevitable conclusion, is the only way to do that is with a change.”
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