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What the 1922 Committee is and how to replace a prime minister

What is the 1922 Committee and how was it created What role does it play in replacing a prime minister and why is it mentioned so often these days?

Credit: Alaa Abood

The 1922 committee is a powerful group of Tory backbenchers who perform the main part in the no-confidence vote of the conservative party leadership.

Backbench members of the Conservative party belong to a body known as the 1922 Committee (so-called because its founding members were first returned to Parliament in 1922), through which they keep the leadership informed of their opinions.

Despite it being a subcommittee within the Conservative Party it has great political influence by virtue of the powers granted to it according to the party’s internal regulations.

It has the power to force the prime minister to resign and replace him or her by giving a chance to other candidates. This generally happens if the MPs continue to have no confidence in the leadership within the party.

Credit: Alaa Abood

Recently, Senior Conservative MPs said Boris Johnson would face a vote of no confidence in his leadership inside the party if found guilty of breaking coronavirus restrictions.

This case created a debate inside the conservative party and other parties plus the media about ways to force the prime minister to resign and that brought the 1922 committee to the light again.

Who are the members of the 1922 committee?

The committee contains the backbencher Conservative MPs that meet weekly when the Commons is sitting and discuss issues as well as listen to invited speakers.

The committee members also serve on a variety of specialized committees such as foreign affairs and finance.

Chairman of the 1922 committee Credit: Alaa Abood, Wikimedia commons

The chair is usually a senior MP, is elected by committee members, and currently, the 1922 committee is chaired by Sir Graham Brady, who has considerable influence within the Conservative Party.

Credit: Alaa Abood

How does the 1922 Committee work?

The Committee has the right and power to replace the Prime Minister during a leadership contest after obtaining the required number of MPs which is 15% of the number of MPs representing the Conservative Party.

Here is how the 1922 Committee works.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons and graphic by Alaa Abood

A Tory leadership competition would be triggered if 15 percent of the Tory MPs write letters to the chair of the 1922 Committee.

According to the latest report of the iNews, in 2018 Theresa May needed 159 MPs to support her to stay in office and won the vote by 200 to 117. 

The 1922 Committee has the right to keep secret the number of MPs who have submitted letters and at the same time, any of the MPs have the right to reveal their status in public if they like.

What would happen if the Prime Minister were ousted?

A leadership race in the Tory Party would start practically immediately and the new leader of the conservative party becomes the Prime Minister.

In other words, the Conservative affiliates would be picking the next leader for the country.

The new leader could also decide to call a snap election, which is what Ms May did in 2017 after she became Prime Minister.

Credit: Alaa Abood

The new leader could also decide to call a snap election, which is what Ms May did in 2017 after she became Prime Minister.

Several of the Conservative Party MPs wrote letters to Sir Graham Brady, requesting the launch of a leadership contest after they lost confidence in the Boris Johnson government.

The 1922 Committee has the right to keep secret the number of MPs who have submitted letters and at the same time, any of the MPs have the right to reveal their status in public if they like.

Credit: Twitter

At the same time, other several Conservative MPs urged the prime minister to resign after he apologized for attending an alcohol-drinking gathering in one of the government buildings at No. 10 in May 2020, when the country was in a state of lockdown.

Credit: Twitter

The latest report of the Telegraph newspaper mentioned that so far, 13 Conservative backbenchers are said they have written to the Chairman, but the true total could be much higher.

That includes Sir Roger Gale – MP for North Thanet, Andrew Bridgen – MP for Northwest Leicestershire, Aaron Bell – MP for Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Peter Aldous – MP for Waveney, Tobias Ellwood – MP for Bournemouth East, Anthony Mangnall – MP for Totnes, Sir Gary Streeter – MP for Southwest Devon, Nick Gibb – MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, Caroline Nokes – MP for Romsey and Southampton North, Douglas Ross and William Wragg.

Credit: Twitter

A “dead man walking” in this word, Sir Roger described Mr Johnson and said he thinks the time has come for either him to go with dignity as his choice or for the 1922 Committee to intercede.

Sir Roger Gale, a veteran backbencher, and the Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, publicly confirmed that they had submitted letters last Wednesday as reported in the iNews report in 2022.

The call to discuss no confidence in the Prime Minister is one of the biggest risks to his leadership due to the increasing number of Conservative MPs who are demanding his resignation due to what has become known as the “party gate” scandal.

What is the history of the 1922 Committee?

Despite its name, the 1922 Committee was truly created in April 1923 in response to an initiative by new Tory MPs elected at the 1922 General Election to enable assistance within the party according to the UK Parliament definition.

The meeting of Tory MPs was held in the Carlton Club in October 1922. During that meeting, the vote went against Austen Chamberlain’s plan of enduring Lloyd George’s Alliance administration.

The meeting was presided by Chamberlain himself and even though the voting went against him. the committee’s decision removed him as party leader.

The sudden taste of power suggested the need for a body through which backbenchers might exert influence.