Are Tory MPs trying to overthrow Rishi Sunak?

Reports suggest as many as 30 MPs have submitted letters calling for a vote of no confidence

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has had a torrid week. He faced a significant rebellion in parliament over the Rwanda Bill. New polling suggests that he could be facing electoral oblivion at the next election, with almost a dozen cabinet members losing their seats. Now there are reports that the electorate might not have to wait that long to see the back of him – his own MPs could be trying to give him the boot.

The Telegraph has reported a number of Tory sources as saying that there have been a growing number of letters submitted to Sir Graham Brady – chair of the 1922 committee – asking for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister. If 53 Tory MPs submit letters, a vote of no confidence will be triggered.

Only one Tory MP – Andrea Jenkyns – has announced publicly that she has submitted a letter to Brady, doing so in November 2023. Jenkyns is a Boris Johnson loyalist who backed Liz Truss in the 2022 Tory leadership contest, and so doesn’t necessarily come as much of a surprise.

However, according to the Tory sources quoted by the Telegraph, as many as 30 MPs may have submitted letters to Brady. The trigger has apparently been the handling of the Rwanda Bill, with those on the hard right of the party wanting the legislation to be even more extreme.

The ’30 letters’ figure has been reported elsewhere too, including in The Sun.

Jenkyns, meanwhile, has said that as many as 29 MPs have sent in letters, and Sky News has reported that a Tory source has indicated that several letters have been submitted in recent days.

The actual number of letters that have been submitted is likely only known to Brady himself, and it is possible that disgruntled Tory MPs have overstated the level of disquiet at Sunak’s leadership.

If Brady does receive 53 letters, a vote of Tory MPs would be held to determine whether the parliamentary party still has confidence in Sunak. If a majority of MPs vote to say they have no confidence in him, a leadership election would be triggered. Were that to happen, it would be the fifth to take place since the Brexit referendum in 2016, and mean that the Tories would go into the next election with a new leader.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Image credit: Simon Walker / Number 10 – Creative Commons

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