What is a no confidence vote?


Exclusively in the UK Constitution, a vote of confidence allows the House of Commons to vote upon whether it supports the government at that time. To bring the vote, 48 letters supporting this vote of no confidence must be submitted by 48 different MP’s to the relevant chairman. A vote is then held within the Commons where all MP’s vote on whether they hold confidence in the Government and Prime Minister. The majority of votes gives the answer, i.e. the Prime Minister only needs 50% of the votes to have secured a vote of confidence and to remain in power. If the majority of the votes were cast opposing the ruling Prime Minister and government then they would no longer be allowed to remain in power. MP’s then have 14 days to try and agree on a new government, if this does not happen a General Election is called and a new government or sometimes party is called into power.


How a Vote of No Confidence fits into the Constitution and the political process has been laid out by the Fixed Term Parliaments Act in 2011. On January the 15th 2019 Theresa May faced a vote of no confidence as MP criticised May’s Withdrawal Agreement to leave the European Union. The House rejected a vote of no confidence by a vote of 325 to 306, and May remained in power.


Key Terms:


Constitution – The backbone of any state. A collection of rules and principles that organise how that country should be governed (see Constitution article for a more detailed explanation)

Withdrawal Agreement (divorce deal) – a draft proposal containing how Brexit should happen, proposed by Theresa May and her government to leave the EU in March 2019.

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