So Theresa May is facing a vote of no confidence in her leadership of the Conservative party today. It's unclear if she will be ousted or not.

What happens if the vote fails?

2 Answers 2


Under current Conservative Party rules, she remains leader, and cannot be subject to a party confidence vote for another year.

Being a party matter, none of this affects any parliamentary vote of no confidence which might take place.

Source: BBC News.

See also: Leadership Elections in the Conservative Party, House of Commons briefing paper 01366, July 2016.

  • 6
    It might be worth being explicit that these rules are these of the Conservative Party, rather than anything universal to British politics. In principle they could be changed, but not on a short timescale.
    – origimbo
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 14:02
  • @origimbo: done; I've also added another source. Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 14:17
  • Perhaps worth noting that she cannot be challenged by an in-party vote of no confidence for another year: it has no impact on Parliamentary procedure (eg a Parliamentary vote of no confidence). I know that's implicit in the question, but to a layman it may not be obvious
    – Jon Story
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 15:38
  • @JonStory: fair point; updated. Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 15:41
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    Also worth adding that it's generally accepted (at least in the press) that a narrow margin of victory would leave her in a tenuous position, from which the cabinet may be able to force her to resign.
    – Bob Tway
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 17:09

The (probably) failing attempt of vote of no confidence mostly shows how divided even the own conservative party is despite representing the PM.

If the vote fails, Mrs. May has definitely a stronger position than without such a vote even taking place. She would know there is no clear majority against her course and likely there is also no clear majority in the parliament. The fact that a no-confidence vote is even instigated would normally question the position of the PM. However, in May's current situation with criticism from all sides ever since she took office, a failed vote paradoxically supports her position (even if it is only the fact that there might be no persuasive alternative). Therefore, I believe once the vote has failed, May gained more time for her efforts either to renegotiate parts of the deal (which I doubt will happen in a substantial manner) or to set a new date for the vote on the deal.

If the vote succeeds, May will step down and probably a more pronounced Brexit supporter will take her place. I doubt however that neither Johnson nor Rees-Mogg would get the position.

To sum up, a failed vote would indirectly support the current position of May while a successful vote would end her period as PM.

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    Could you clarify that you meant neither, not either talking about Rees-Mogg and Johnson?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 9:33
  • @gnasher729, I meant that none of both (Rees-Mogg or Johnson) will be the next PM. I am not quite sure what you mean to clarify because I wrote neither Johnson nor Rees-Mogg so I thought I am explicit enough.
    – Alex_P
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 9:53
  • Note that now the vote has failed but Rees-Moog et al are claiming that the result proves she is weak and should resign anyway. A lot of the newspapers seem to agree. This means I am not sure she is in a stronger position apart from the fact they can't actually try to kick her out again for a year, merely impotently demand her resignation. Kind of funny coming from those like Rees-Mogg and Johnson who seem to so strongly feel the referendum result is a sacrosanct example of the democratic will.
    – Eric Nolan
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 10:58
  • @EricNolan, That Rees-Mogg et at are demanding her resignation can be seen as almost instinctively. I personally would not put too much weight on parts of British media either. I believe it is on May's side now how to react. There is no reason for her to resign. She apparently does have the support or at least she does not have the opposition which can be regarded as passive acceptance (from my point of view).
    – Alex_P
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 11:21

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