After May's defeat on her Brexit deal, Labour tabled a motion of no confidence. The government can lose the vote if either DUP and/or ERG/Brexiteers (these being from the Conservative Party) vote against the government. The latter would imply MPs from the government voting against itself.

Is there a precedent in the UK Parliament of this? Have MPs ever voted against itself in a motion of no confidence?

There seems to exist precedents in other countries (where the vote is called by own MPs).

  • 2
    It’s common for governments to be defeated when the “confidence and supply” party (i.e. DUP in the current gov.) votes against it. But it’s quite rare for party members to vote against their government. – Panda Jan 16 '19 at 13:59
  • 2
    I can’t find examples in recent votes at the moment, but it probably has occurred before, especially in the earlier days. – Panda Jan 16 '19 at 14:18
  • 1
    Prior to the fixed term parliaments act any piece of primary legislation would have been considered a confidence vote specific votes were often unnecessary. – Jontia Jan 16 '19 at 15:40
  • 1
    @Jontia: depends what you mean by "primary legislation". Generally, a government would say if they regarded a vote as a confidence issue, though certain things (budget, Queen's speech) were automatically regarded as such. See Wikipedia article on the subject. – Steve Melnikoff Jan 16 '19 at 17:27
  • 2
    @Abigail Alfred Broughton abstained as he was on his death bed, rather than as a political move. He was willing to travel for the vote, against advice from doctors, but Callaghan considered it obscene to ask him to. He died shorty after the vote. – James Jan 17 '19 at 16:28

There were conservatives among those who supported the vote of no confidence against Winston Churchill during WWII: they were from his own party, but he was leading a National Government, a term which meant a broad coalition of more or less equal parties and no recognised opposition.

Some of those listed as against him were put there by him (he had a proxy put the vote because he was confident he would win), but his main opposition was coming from the conservative right.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Can you provide a reference for that? If so, please edit it into your answer. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Apr 9 '19 at 13:04
  • It's described in his 5-volume memoir of WWII, I'll add it when I next have access to a copy to get the page number. – user1567459 Apr 17 '19 at 0:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .