Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer will table a no-confidence motion in Boris Johnson’s government on Tuesday in order to try to prevent his opposite number from clinging to power until the conclusion of his party’s leadership contest on 5 September.
The prime minister was finally forced to step down on Thursday after the Chris Pincher scandal had inspired a tidal wave of ministerial mass resignations led by chancellor Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid as Mr Johnson’s own party revolted against his leadership.
After delivering a resentful resignation speech from Downing Street in which he expressed no remorse or contrition over his myriad mistakes, it quickly became clear that Mr Johnson hoped to stay on in Number 10 for at least another eight weeks, a notion that was beyond the pale to many, with the PM’s enemies likening his ignominious bid to hold onto power to Donald Trump’s bogus election fraud narrative.
Sir Keir warned the Conservatives last week: “He’s inflicted lies, fraud and chaos on this country. If they don’t get rid of him then Labour will step up, in the national interest, and bring a vote of no confidence, because we can’t go on with this prime minister clinging on for months and months to come.”
He has now made good on that threat.
Here is everything you need to know about what happens next.
What is a Commons no-confidence vote?
What Sir Keir is proposing is effectively a Commons-wide referendum on the PM’s ongoing fitness for office, giving MPs from other parties including Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and the Greens their chance to weigh in on whether he should be drummed out early and replaced by a caretaker PM, perhaps his deputy Dominic Raab.
Mr Johnson’s foes from across the aisle are unlikely to prove sympathetic and require a simple majority to win.
However, it is nevertheless regarded as unlikely that Mr Johnson will be ousted ahead of schedule as most Tories are thought to have accepted the incumbent’s self-appointed caretaker status and retrained their focus on the fight to choose his permanent successor.
They will also be wary that opposing the government could trigger a general election that would see them risk losing the large Commons majority Mr Johnson won in December 2019.
If the confidence vote were to succeed, a general election could indeed be called, or the Queen could invite someone else to form a government on the basis they could win a vote of confidence in the House.
It is the first time such a vote will have been held since Sir Keir’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, brought one against Theresa May’s government in January 2019 in the wake of a historic defeat on her Brexit plans, which she survived.
According to the House of Commons library, governments have been defeated on questions of confidence on just four occasions since 1895, with the most recent being in 1979, which brought about the toppling of James Callaghan’s Labour government.
How does it differ from the Conservative Party vote held in June?
Just after the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations last month – at which Mr Johnson was publicly booed by a crowd of royalists on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral – Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful Tory backbench organisation the 1922 Committee, announced that he had received the requisite number of letters from Conservative MPs expressing their loss of confidence in the PM to trigger a vote on his future.
The Tories duly gathered in the Commons to cast their votes, with Mr Johnson only narrowly surviving the ballot by 211 votes to 148, meaning he had lost the support of almost 40 per cent of his own party.
While the 1922 Committee’s current rules meant the PM would have been shielded from facing another such trial by fire for 12 months, members were due to vote on revising those regulations imminently, which could have resulted in his facing more regular challenges to his authority had he not been defenestrated by other means.
When will it take place?
Labour has said it is seeking to hold its vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday after the conclusion of Prime Minister’s Questions at around 12.30pm.
Explaining the thinking behind the vote, a party source told The Huffington Post on Monday: “It will put the squeeze on backbench Tories to either vote for him, and be hypocrites, or back Labour, admitting we’re right.
“Do all those Tory leadership candidates really want to be answering that question next week? They know he needs to go.”