And Today’s UK Political Crisis is…

…Theresa May is facing a vote of no confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party. Most people think that this is an indulgence that the nation can ill-afford, but 48 members of the parliamentary party decided to submit letters to Sir Ian Brady, chair of the 1922 committee expressing their concerns and triggering the vote. Mrs May has decided to contest the vote and it is set to go to its first stage as early as tonight (unless she pulls it again, one imagines…)

The initial stage of the no confidence process is a secret ballot of the Tory MPs in parliament. If Mrs May can secure the support of more than half of the MPs eligible to vote, then she will continue to be leader of the party and PM. Should she fail to make that mark, an election for a new leader would be run. In the initial phase, any Tory MP with an interest might stand (if they have enough nominators), and ultimately, the names of two candidates would emerge to be presented to the membership of the party in the country to select their preferred candidate. May needs to secure the support of 158 of her MPs to survive: if she does so, the rules preclude a further leadership challenge for a year.

At the time of writing over 100 MPs have “Tweeted” their support for the PM. The decision is likely to be announced tonight at about 9PM UK time.

The words of the director of the British Chambers of Commerce, Adam Marshall, on the leadership challenge will resonate with many:

“At one of the most pivotal moments for the UK economy in decades, it is unacceptable that Westminster politicians have chosen to focus on themselves, rather than on the needs of the country. The utter dismay among businesses watching events in Westminster cannot be exaggerated. Our firms are worried, investors around the world are baffled and disappointed, and markets are showing serious strain as this political saga goes on and on. History will not be kind to those who prioritise political advantage over people’s livelihoods. Businesses need politicians, regardless of party or views on Brexit, to understand that their high-stakes gambles have real-world consequences of the highest order.”

I suspect that May will survive the vote, but it serves to underline the deep divisions within the ruling Conservative Party. These divisions will not be healed, irrespective of the outcome of the challenge.

It remains quite likely that the Labour party will put forward a vote of no confidence in the government in the coming weeks, but it seems unlikely that they will muster the necessary support to trigger a general election.

Dr. Mike Campbell is a British scientist and freelance writer. Mike got his doctorate in Ghent, Belgium and has worked in Belgium, France, Monaco and Austria since leaving the UK. As a writer, he specialises in business, science, medicine and environmental subjects.