MPs across the House of Commons are bracing themselves for a period of unprecedented chaos ahead of Boris Johnson’s almost inevitable election as the new Tory leader tomorrow – and with the Tories’ working majority now depleted to just 3 MPs, and at least 6 Tory MPs already reportedly holding talks with the Liberal Democrats regarding defecting, an imminent General Election now looks by far the most likely outcome.
According to The Times, as many as six Tory MPs are reportedly engaged in talks with the Lib Dems over defecting, should Boris Johnson be elected Tory leader tomorrow as expected.
In addition to these six potential losses, the upcoming by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire looks extremely likely to see the Conservative Party lose yet another MP, with the Lib Dems now odds on favourites to take the seat.
Furthermore, with Charlie Elphicke having been stripped of the Tory whip after being charged with 3 counts of sexual assault earlier today, the Tories’ working majority is already down to just 3 MPs – and, should the Tories lose 7 more as looks likely, Boris Johnson will be unable to command a majority in Parliament, making a General Election the most likely outcome.
What Could Happen Next?
Boris Johnson is the overwhelming favourite to be elected Tory leader tomorrow, and if he is, it will trigger unprecedented chaos, not just in the Tory Party, but throughout Parliament as a whole.
Following tomorrow’s Tory leadership announcement, Johnson will be expected to visit the Queen to assure her that he will be able to command a majority of MPs. If the Tories still have an effective working majority at this point, Johnson will be able to do this.
However, if more than 2 Tory defections do occur, as look likely, Johnson will be unable to command a majority – and, in turn, the Queen will be unable to annoint him Prime Minister.
If Johnson cannot form a government with the blessing of the Queen, a contigency plan will have to be implemented – with a caretaker government, possibly consisting of Theresa May and her current administration, the most likely option until a solution can be found – most likely a General Election.
However, even if the Tory defections do not immediately occur and the new PM is able to command an effective working majority in Parliament, Johnson’s tenure as PM will almost certainly be immediately tested by a Vote of No Confidence – likely to be called by Labour either late on Wednesday 24th July or early on Thursday 25th.
If Johnson survives the Vote of Confidence, he will be able to continue as PM at least until Parliament returns from Summer recess.
However, if Johnson loses, a General Election will be called if he cannot win another Vote of Confidence within 14 days.
Below is a handy diagram of the possible scenarios of tomorrow’s Tory leadership election created by journalist Jon Worth:
OK. Lib Dem leader about to be announced. Tory leader to be named tomorrow morning… the start of an extraordinary week is here.
So how are the next few days going to play out?
I reckon Johnson is going to struggle to become Prime Minister.
— Jon Worth (@jonworth) July 22, 2019
Given today’s rumours of imminent Tory defections, added to numerous Tory MPs refusing to commit to supporting Johnson in an upcoming confidence vote, a General Election is now odds on favourite to be held before the end of the year.
With Labour currently leading the way in most polls, and with the Tory vote being effectively cut in half by the Brexit Party, it really is looking increasingly likely Boris Johnson may never actually become Prme Minister.