A vote of no-confidence in Boris Johnson has recently (as of 06.06.2022) been triggered due to more than 54 letters (15% of all Conservative MPs) having sent letters to the chair of the 1922 committee.

One thing I have not seen in any coverage is over what period the letters must be received, if there is indeed such a thing!

Could I (as a Tory MP), for instance, write a letter day-one after a new leader is elected, and have it count for all of my time as an MP / the duration of their leadership?

Or is it required that the requisite letters are received in a timely manner? For instance the party-gate scandal has been ongoing since at least the end of last year, would a letter written in November 2021 still be counted towards the 54 letter total?

How about after an election, or if a vote of no-confidence fails (i.e. the incumbent is successful) and the leader is not removed. Does the letter no longer apply then, or will it continue? Should I write a new letter if a new leader of the 1922 committee is elected?

2 Answers 2


There is no validity period as such - and indeed, in this current case, some MPs did write letters of no confidence very soon into the current Prime Minister's tenure. Sir Roger Gale, for instance, revealed in December 2021 that he had written a letter shortly after the Barnard Castle incident in 2020. If such a letter is not explicitly withdrawn by the MP, it remains valid.

It is generally expected that on the threshold of letters from 15% of the parliamentary party being reached, the chairman of the 1922 committee will check with those who have put letters in to confirm their intentions. Indeed, when Theresa May was close to the threshold in 2018, government ministers were thought to have put in 'decoy' letters, so that they would have an early warning of the threshold being reached when a confirmation call from Sir Graham Brady came through. However, there is no guarantee that this is the case.

Before Sir Graham's tenure as chairman of the committee, letters had to be renewed annually - according to The Independent:

Under Sir Graham, a no-confidence letter is held on file indefinitely once submitted, unless the author asks for it to be withdrawn. Previously, they would have had to renew their objection on an annual basis.

As for your other questions, it's not entirely clear, as the 1922 committee rules aren't fully public, but I believe that in the case of a change of 1922 committee leadership fresh letters would have to be written. The chair of the committee is supposed to be the only individual aware of the exact number of letters sent, and the letters are also meant to be addressed to the current chair. In the case of a party leader surviving a confidence vote, I believe fresh letters would also have to be written - not least because under the current committee rules, no new confidence vote may be held for a year.

I don't believe a general election would require fresh letters to be written, as there would be no change in the structure of the Conservative party itself, unless of course the chair of the committee or the party leader lost their seat in parliament.


There is no limit on the timing in which letters can be sent to the 1922 Committee as far as I am aware.

A previous question was asked regarding whether a new leader enjoys a period of immunity from such challenges and the answer appears to be no. As such, letters can be sent to the 1922 Committee on day one of a new leader's term, though the odds of any success is probably close to none.

Letters sent to the 1922 Committee can be withdrawn at any time, as confirmed by its chairman Sir Graham Brady:

Asked if he believed the threshold for 54 letters was close, he said: “I think it is near but while members can submit letters they can also withdraw their letters and I know that is a significant operation going on by the whips at the moment encouraging colleagues who may have submitted a letter to withdraw again.

In fact, it is not unheard of for MPs to withdraw or resubmit letters as events develop. In January 2022, following the defection of former Conservative MP Christian Wakeford to the Labour Party, a few letters were withdrawn, as reported by The Guardian.

Senior sources in the government whips' office told The Telegraph they knew of three no confidence letters in Mr Johnson that had been submitted to Sir Graham Brady, the 1922 committee chairman, and then withdrawn.

A former government minister and senior Tory MP not seen as an ally of Mr Johnson said he knew of seven letters being withdrawn.

At least one MP, Andrew Bridgen, had withdrawn and then resubmitted his letter to the 1922 Committee.

As the Institute for Government noted, the rules for such confidence votes are not published, making it difficult for us to know definitely the entire procedure.

According to The House magazine, “there is no codified rulebook for the 1922 committee.” And the specific process for confidence votes is not publicly available – “it is in Brady’s sole possession.” This means that the committee could change the rules at any time.

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