The vote to oust May: A guide to how it works and what comes next

UK Prime Minister Theresa May faces a confidence vote in her leadership on Wednesday night amid growing opposition to her Brexit deal.

Conservative members of Parliament will vote from 18:00 to 20:00 on whether they have confidence in her as leader. The outcome, followed by the breakdown of the numbers, will be announced by 21:00 London time.

If May is defeated, the first ballot in the new leadership contest will be held on Tuesday. Candidates could be whittled down to the final two by December 20. Once there are two candidates, it’s meant to go to party members in a postal ballot.

This is how the process works:

  • This is an internal Conservative Party matter, handled under its own rulebook. It only deals with the leadership of the party.
  • It is a secret ballot and only Conservative MPs can take part.
  • Abstention is an option, so while the threshold for winning is in theory 158, it could be lower.
  • If a majority of Tory lawmakers vote that they have confidence in May, she cannot face another such vote for a year.
  • If a majority vote against her, she must resign as leader and cannot run in the contest to replace her.
  • Brady would organise a contest for a new leader.
  • May would be likely to stay on as prime minister until her successor were chosen.
  • In theory, the final two candidates are put to the broader party membership for a run-off.
  • However, when May became leader in 2016, the second candidate dropped out, leaving her the winner by default.

In 2003, the party agreed that only a single candidate would stand. The Tory party is known for its efficiency when it comes to replacing leaders.

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