Tory MP declarations and the outlook for tonight’s no confidence vote in Theresa May

Election Maps UK has a crowdsourced list of declarations by Tory MPs of how they will vote in tonight's vote of confidence on Theresa May's leadership of the Party. This should be taken with a pinch of salt, as the vote itself with a secret ballot. It's currently running 170-80 in May's favour. This would see her surviving, but politically wounded, the more so if her opponents can get towards the 100 mark.

It would take a simple majority of Tory MPs to defeat May and see nominations for the leadership opened. If more than one candidate gets sufficent votes, the contest would go to the Conservative Party in the country, the first time a Prime Minister has been chosen in this way. This would greatly increase chances of a new leader prepared to opt for a 'No Deal' Brexit over Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement. This would put pressure on the Grieve/Soubry wing of moderate Brexit-critical MPs to find some way of avoiding a No Deal outcome, potentially risking the Government's majority.

Conversely, in the more likely event that May wins, the Government's majority is still at risk. The DUP will continue to oppose the Withdrawal Deal, but may nevertheless choose not to support a vote of no confidence in the Government. This political paralysis would leave the UK on course for a No Deal Brexit by default.

Thus, all paths at the moment seem to lead to new pressure on moderate Tories to find a way to avoid a deal. Their key strategist, Dominic Grieve, has much to think about.

In coming weeks, however, there are also risks for the DUP,  if opposition MPs start to cave in to Theresa May's position rather than risk No Deal. If the backstop is forced on them, the DUP may feel that they can tell their supporters they have done all they could, but would that be true if they have been sustaining the Government in the meantime? Labour's unionist-friendly rhetoric of last week may have been intended to raise that question.







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