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  1. Politics
9 July 2018

How do you remove a prime minister?

Asking for a friend.

By Billie Esplen

The resignations of David Davis as Brexit secretary and Boris Johnson as foreign secretary have sparked speculation that the Conservative Party will try and replace Theresa May as Prime Minister. But how can this actually be done?

The answer is that there is no set way to remove a prime minister, it varies depending on which party is in power.

For a Conservative Party leader, the role currently filled by Theresa May, as George Eaton explains, there has to be a “vote of (no) confidence” from the party. This involves all the party’s members of parliament voting on whether they “have confidence” in their leader.

A vote of confidence within the Conservative Party can only be triggered if a minimum of 15 per cent of the party’s MP’s write in letters demanding one. That means that 48 Tory MPs are currently needed to unseat May. 

If, when the vote takes place, the majority of the party vote “no confidence” in the leader, they are forced to resign. The question is then who will take their place.

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The process is different in the case of a Labour prime minister. Labour protocol dictates that even if the party shows a majority vote of no confidence, the leader can choose to keep their position. Whether they will choose to do so is another question.