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Here is a range of possible outcomes from today confidence ballot in Theresa May.

There are 317 potential voters: Charlie Elphicke and Andrew Griffiths have the whip returned for the day (if not longer).

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Emphatic May win

For May: 250

Against May: 67

A quarter of those eligible to vote comes in at 79 MPs.  At below a quarter, a win on this scale for the Prime Minister would be decisive.

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Clear May win

For May: 225

Against May: 92

A third of those eligible is 106. With opposition below this level, May’s win would be marked though perhaps not overwhelming.

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Problematic May win

For May: 200

Against May: 117

Once the opposition to May climbs above a third of the electorate, it becomes harder to assert legitimacy.

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Marginal May win

For May: 175

Against May: 142

This total of votes against the Prime Minister isn’t far off half – 159.  She would surely find it hard to hang in this circumstance.

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May defeat

For May: 150

Against May: 167

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So where is the danger zone for May – the range at which senior Cabinet Ministers and/or the 1922 Committee move against her, and tell her to go, as some of Margaret Thatcher’s ministers did in 1990?

Where it should be is very much a matter of individual taste, prejudice and judgement.  We would have thought that opposition of about a third of Tory MPs would indicate a very substantial loss of confidence.

But as we pointed out this morning, John Major was able to hang on in the 1995 leadership contest with over a third of Conservative MPs against him, having won the College Green post-vote spin war decisively.

Where it is may be different. Our rough finger to the wind test is that the danger zone is somewhere between 110 – 125 votes against May and somewhere between about 210 – 225 votes for her.  The 215 mark seems a reasonable enough test of strengh.

Readers will have worked out that these figures presume no abstentions or spoilt ballot papers, which won’t happen real life, and which complicate such calculations.

53 comments for: The 215 vote barrier for May

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