(image credit: BBC News)
Theresa May’s leadership of the Conservative Party has been called into doubt, as 15% of her party’s MPs have submitted letters of no confidence in her to the 1922 Committee (formally known as the Conservative Private Members’ Committee) which plays a crucial role in choosing the party leader.
It’s chairman, currently Sir Graham Brady, oversees the election of party leaders, or any Conservative party-led vote of no confidence in a current leader
Cheshire has four Conservative MPs at present – Antoinette Sandbach, Eddisbury; Fiona Bruce, Congleton; David Rutley, Macclesfield; Esther McVey, Tatton.
Antoinette Sandbach is the only one to publicly take to social media to announce her intentions regarding tonight’s vote, in which Theresa May must secure more than 50% of votes in order to remain leader of the party.
Here’s what we know so far about where out MPs stand…
Antoinette Sandbach – Eddisbury MP
Ms Sandbach posted on Twitter this morning to say: “My position on the ERG and a leadership election has been clear for sometime, I believe this is a pointless piece of naval gazing forced by a minority of Conservative MPs.”
It’s reasonable to assume that she will support the prime minister at tonight’s vote.
Fiona Bruce – Congleton MP
Declining to reveal her intentions in tonight’s leadership confidence vote, Congleton MP Fiona Bruce told BBC reporter Phil McCann that she is keeping her vote confidential.
Phil posted on Twitter: “Yesterday she said 78% out of “hundreds” of constituents who’d contacted her had urged her NOT to support May’s Brexit deal. But opposing the deal doesn’t necessarily mean a vote against May tonight.”
David Rutley – Macclesfield MP
Macclesfield MP David Rutley has said that he will be supporting the prime minister.
This isn’t really considered to be too surprising, given that he is a government whip. It’s reasonable to assume that he will support Theresa May at tonight’s vote.
Mr Rutley posted on Twitter: “I am backing the Prime Minister in this evening’s vote. Theresa May is working hard for the country at this vital time and should be given the support to get on with that important work.”
Esther McVey – Tatton MP
Esther McVey, who recently quit Theresa May’s cabinet over the Brexit deal, has remained tight lipped so far today.
However, she didn’t rule out a leadership bid in her first tv interview since stepping down as work and pensions secretary.
Hinting that she may have been one of the 48 authors of letters submitted to the 1922 Committee, she told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday: “I am looking for a person who can unite the party behind a Brexit deal, a person who believes in Brexit who’s got the full passion to deliver.”
When pressed on whether she would consider taking on the role, she commented: “If people asked me, then of course I’d give it serious consideration.”
Ms McVey has not publicly said she has submitted a letter, not stated her intention for this evening’s ballot.
It’s plausible to suggest that Ms McVey will not support Theresa May tonight.
The vote is secret, so we will never truly know who voted for or against Mrs May.
The BBC has already tallied up more than 50% of Conservative MPs publicly coming out in support of the prime minister, which would be sufficient for her to retain the top seat in cabinet.
If that proves not to be the case, a leadership contest would ensue.