A vote of no confidence in the Government is not as simple as it sounds.

There has been a lot of talk about Labour forcing a Commons vote of no-confidence.

The no-confidence motion that Jeremey Corbyn has tabled is largely symbolic. The government doesn’t have to provide time for it to be debated and the motion won’t, of itself, trigger a General Election or force Theresa May to resign.

If it is debated and passes, Theresa May’s authority will be reduced, but as her authority already seems to be around zero, will that make any difference?

Tabling a vote of no-confidence in the government is another thing.

However, what that has meant since 2011, when the Fixed Term Parliament Act received Royal Assent, is very different to what it meant in the past.

The Fixed Term Parliament Act was introduced to provide a more stable parliamentary environment for a coalition government. As a consequence it also protects a minority government. It also removed the prerogative that the Monarch had, on advice from the Prime Minister, to dissolve Parliament and call a General Election.

The no-confidence procedure was significantly modified by the introduction of the FTP Act:

  1. A vote of no-confidence in the government, using the form of words prescribed in the FTP Act, has to be passed;
  2. If a confidence motion, again using a prescribed form of words, has not been passed within 14 days of the no-confidence vote, Parliament is dissolved and a General Election is called.

What does the Fixed Term Parliament Act say must happen after the no-confidence vote and ahead of a confidence vote held in following 14 days?

The House of Commons Public Admin & Constitutional Affairs Committee says it is not defined.


The Act provides no guidance on what happens during the 14-day period following a FTP Act no-confidence motion being passed. The Clerk of the House says that what happens during this period is a matter of politics, and not of procedure.

The 14 days allow time for confidence in the government to be re-established. Whether through a change in personnel, policy or party is a matter for the political process.


It is possible that the DUP and/or the ERG could vote against the government in the no-confidence vote and then, having extracted commitments from the government, support the government in the confidence vote.

So it doesn’t look as if a Commons no-confidence vote will unlock the door to No 10 in the short term.

A People’s Vote on what is Best for Our Country may well be the surest way to secure those elusive keys.


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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.

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