May survives meeting with Tory backbenchers – but was the confrontation stage-managed?

A crunch meeting with disgruntled Tory backbenchers proved to be nothing of the sort for Theresa May in what members of her own party claimed – before it happened – was a “rigged” event, with loyalists in key places to “desk bang and cheer”.

Mrs May was said to have been summoned to the meeting of the Tory 1922 Committee on October 24 in order to persuade MPs not to submit the required 48 letters demanding a vote of “no confidence” in her leadership – to plead for her career, in effect.

But the meeting showed no evidence of any threat to her. Nadine ‘Mad Nad’ Dorries reckons it was stage managed by the Conservative Party whips – all of whom were, apparently, in attendance:

Mrs May turned up, gave a speech, and walked away with her position intact:

Some critics have seen this as proof of what we’ve seen many times before – that Tories are all talk. If their Parliamentary majority is under threat, they will always defer to whoever happens to be the leader:

Was it really a stitch-up by party whips?

Probably not.

See, for opponents of Mrs May, this is a mathematics problem.

A rebellion by the backbenchers requires 48 of them to send letters, demanding a “no confidence” vote in Theresa May, to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee. After that, 160 Tory MPs would have to vote against her.

That’s a tall order!

A better bet would be voting against Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal, when it finally comes back to Parliament – and in whatever form it finally takes. Only around 15 votes would be needed to achieve that defeat, and it is possible that she would not recover.

But there is a random element: A small number of Labour Brexiters might defy their party’s whip to support Mrs May.

They could do it to ensure that the UK leaves the EU – or they could do it to ensure that the Tories remain stuck with their lame-duck leader, who will turn public opinion further and further against them, the longer she stays in Downing Street.

Neither would be wonderful for the United Kingdom, but these are Labour Brexiters, so that is hardly likely to enter into their calculations.

The end result is that Mrs May remains the titular – but ineffective – head of the Conservative Party and the Tory government, but her position remains precarious in the extreme.

As for the 1922 committee, and its failure to carry out a simple function for the good of the UK – here’s a tweet that sums it up perfectly (apologies for the naughty word at the end):

Who can argue with that?

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