EXPLAINED: How the vote of no confidence in Theresa May's government will work

Posted On: 
16th January 2019

MPs will this evening vote on a motion of no confidence in the Government tabled by Jeremy Corbyn. Here is how it works and what happens next.

Jeremy Corbyn calls for a vote of no confidence in the Government.
Credit: 
PA Images

THE DEBATE

Jeremy Corbyn will kick off the debate at around 1pm, setting out his case for why Parliament should no longer have confidence in Theresa May's administration. The Prime Minister will then respond to the Labour leader, after which MPs on all sides of the House will be able to contribute. Should either Mr Corbyn or Mrs May wish to speak again in the debate, they can only do so with the leave of the House. The debate will continue until close of business, which is at 7pm. The motion is then put and the result of the vote will be determined by a simple majority, so whoever gets the most votes wins.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE GOVERNMENT WINS?

If the Government emerges triumphant, no general election will be called and the Government will continue as at present.

 

BUT WHAT IF THE GOVERNMENT LOSES?

Under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, a general election is triggered if Parliament approves a motion "that this House has no confidence in Her Majety's Government" and does not pass another motion within 14 calendar days that "this House has confidence in Her Majesty's Government". During the 14-day period, the Government can attempt to regain the confidence of Parliament by passing a motion of confidence in itself. If it were successful, the general election would be cancelled. There is no limit on how many times such a motion can be brought forward in the 14-day period.

 

WHAT CAN THE OPPOSITION DO IN THAT TIME?

Meanwhile, Labour can also try to form alliances with other parties during the 14-day period to see whether it could form a government which commands the confidence of the House. However, there is no statutory provision in the Fixed Term Parliament Act legislation - which was passed to prevent the Conservatives collapsing its coalition with the Lib Dems, remember - for how Labour could do that.

 

SO WILL THERE BE A GENERAL ELECTION?

This will only happen if, at the end of the 14-day period, no government has been found which can command the confidence of the Commons. If that is the case, prepare for yet another general election.