Two Tory MPs who are currently suspended from the party whip could be brought back in order to take part in today’s vote of no confidence against Theresa May, 1922 Committee Chair Graham Brady revealed this morning.
Briefing journalists on the vote, Brady said he was waiting for confirmation from the Chief Whip of the size of the Tory party electoral roll, and that it depended on whether Charlie Ephicke or Andrew Griffiths had the whip restored. Both men were suspended following allegations of sexual harassment, though the Conservative party concluded in November that no further action would be taken against Griffiths.
Brady also said that any MPs who were unable to return to Westminster for the vote would be able to apply for a proxy vote by 4pm today, with the result announced at 9pm. For May to win, she must get the confidence of 50 per cent plus one of Conservative MPs.
Hinting that some letters calling for the vote may have been withdrawn yesterday, Brady said the situation had been ‘somewhat fluid’, but refused to say how many letters he now had in his possession. He spoke to Theresa May at 9.30pm to tell her that the threshold had been reached. He said the Conservative party rules demand a vote ‘as quickly as possible’, and added that ‘we reached the judgement that it was sensible to announce before the markets opened this morning’.
This evening’s vote will be a secret ballot, with the two options on the paper being ‘I have confidence in Theresa May as leader’ and ‘I do not have confidence in Theresa May as leader’. They will be counted by Brady and the two Committee vice chairmen, and then verified by the officers of the Committee.
Brady has been famously discreet throughout this process, joking that he threatened yesterday to smash his phone into smithereens because the volume of calls he was receiving ‘was a bit silly’. It will be nothing, though, compared to the volume of calls going out from the whips’ office now as they try to work out whether May is going to win this vote.