There seems to be different views on this question – can Boris Johnson just sit out a vote of no confidence in his government and force a post-Brexit General Election?


There are conflicting claims that either Boris Johnson could sit out a vote of no confidence for the two weeks allowed and then force a general election or that parliament could vote for the opposition to form a government or even vote to form a government of national unity.

So, with the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, having threatened Boris Johnson with a vote of no confidence, the answer to that question is important.

Now, as I understand it, the person that holds the confidence of the House of Commons is the one that is summoned to the palace and asked by the reigning monarch to form a government to run the country.

Let's look at the press release from the Palace on the 24th of July, which said:

"The Queen received in Audience The Right Honourable Boris Johnson MP this afternoon and requested him to form a new Administration. Mr Johnson accepted Her Majesty's offer and kissed hands upon his appointment as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury."

The Queen asked Boris to form a government, he did not have that power until the point he accepted the invitation – hold that thought.

So Boris then goes forth and forms the government.

Now let's look at the wording of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 on how votes of no confidence work.

This is covered by Section 2 of the act.

Now, Section 2(3) says:

(3) An early parliamentary general election is also to take place if—

(a) the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection (4), and

(b) the period of 14 days after the day on which that motion is passed ends without the House passing a motion in the form set out in subsection (5).

Now, subsection four lays out the wording of the no confidence motion itself, that says:

"That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government."

And the answer would be yes or no.

All fine so far?

Well it's the next bit that caught my eye, which is the only way to stop an election occurring – and that is if a motion is passed that says:

"That this House has confidence in Her Majesty's Government."

Now ponder on that one for a moment.

Boris has the government, because the Queen asked him to form it.

There is absolutely no mention in there, of the House of Commons having the power form a new government themselves and then give it a vote of confidence.

It is purely a vote for, or against, the sitting government in exactly the same way as the original vote of no confidence is.

Therefore as far as I can see, after a vote of no confidence, Boris can just sit there and wait for Members of Parliament to either vote for confidence in his government to keep parliament open, or allow the doors to close, a no deal Brexit to happen and then have the general election.

In fact, the Act seems specifically drafted to give the sitting Prime Minister those two weeks to try and regain the confidence of the House of Commons, rather than instantly resigning.

So, the question is, what would be the point for Remainers voting for a motion of no confidence in Boris?

Now, it would be nice for any lawyers out there to give us their verdict.


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