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Unusual Motion

The Guardian Live Blog discusses an unusual motion by Sir Alan Duncan, the former Foreign Office minister, who resigned today them made an effort to hold a motion of confidence in Boris Johnson before the election results have even been announced.

Sir Alan Duncan, the former Foreign Office minister, said he wanted the Commons to hold an effective confidence vote in Boris Johnson tomorrow to avoid a constitutional crisis.

Commons Speaker John Bercow rejected Duncan's request for debate.

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Q&A from the Guardian

  • Sir Alan Duncan did not try to table a formal motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson. There seem to have been two reasons for this. First, Duncan was pushing for a vote tomorrow - after Johnson’s probable election as Tory leader, but before he gets appointed prime minister (which is due to happen on Wednesday afternoon). And, much more importantly, only the leader of the opposition can table a no confidence motion in the government that has to be debated. (Other MPs can table no confidence motions, but they just get printed as early day motions and then ignored.)
  • Instead, Duncan tried to use standing order 24 to hold an emergency debate on a motion that would have effectively amounted to a confidence vote in Johnson.
  • SO24 allows MPs to call for emergency debates on topical issues, normally held on the day an MP applies, and lasting for up to three hours.
  • But for an SO24 debate to happen, the Speaker has to allow the MP to apply, by making a very short speech in the Commons chamber, and the Speaker then decides whether it should go ahead. John Bercow has blocked this bid at the first hurdle; he is not even allowing Duncan to make his application in the chamber.

Bizarre Plot Involving the Queen

The Telegraph outlines the plan in more detail. Please consider Sir Alan Duncan in Bizarre Plot to Persuade the Queen to Reject Boris Johnson as next PM.

Sir Alan Duncan quit as foreign minister after hatching a bizarre plot to persuade the Queen to reject Boris Johnson as the next Prime Minister.

In an extraordinary move, the longstanding Tory MP resigned in protest at a potential Johnson-led government before lobbying Speaker John Bercow to hold an emergency Commons debate on the new leader in a move that could have potentially dealt Theresa May’s successor a fatal blow before he formally took office.

Arguing that there was “doubt” over the level of parliamentary support for Mr Johnson, he added: “We must maintain seamless continuity of government, and must not draw the Queen into political controversy. A questionable succession would risk offending both.”

The move was rejected by Mr Bercow as astonished Conservative colleagues pointed out that Labour was not even planning to table a motion of no confidence this week. Clerks are understood to have advised the Speaker that Sir Alan’s plan would have put the Queen in an ‘invidious position’, pointing out it was for the Opposition, not individuals to table such motions.

Duncan's Lies

Duncan's plan was the exact opposite of what he stated. He had every intention of dragging the Queen into this mess.

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But as the Guardian pointed out, only the leader of the opposition can call for a motion of no confidence.

Motion of No Confidence Not Coming This Week

It's important to note "Labour was not even planning to table a motion of no confidence this week."

I was not aware of that and it might not even be true. But let's assume it is true.


  1. Labour does not have the votes
  2. Jeremy Corbyn fears the most recent polls
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Time to stop Brexit Expires

Clock Runs Out

If Jeremy Corbyn does not schedule a motion of no confidence this week, at least number 1 or number 2 is true, possibly both.

For a no confidence vote to be on July 25, Corbyn would have to request that vote on the 24th. For a vote on September 3, Corbyn would have had to request it on July 25.

The time to stop Boris Johnson from running out the clock and delivering Brexit expires on September 3 by Commons Math and September 10 by mine.

The date depends on what day of the week an election would be scheduled.

My understanding is elections can be held on any day although by convention they are held on Thursday. Since the legal Brexit default date, October 31, is a Thursday, a Thursday election takes a week of the mandatory time schedules to call an election in time.

Under Commons math, Corbyn needs to request a motion of no confidence this week. A September 3 request (vote on the 4th) would not be in time, assuming Commons math is correct.

For a discussion of the timeline, and my math vs the Commons' math, please see British Pound Dives as Brexit Reality Sinks In.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock