'Running scared': Labour says Boris Johnson 'refusing' to allow no confidence vote

How is the race to be prime minister shaping up? Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt reports

Labour says Boris Johnson is "running scared" after he rejected its motion for a vote of no confidence in the government, a move the party is describing as "unprecedented".

Leader Sir Keir Starmer confirmed earlier that he would table a motion for the vote to take place tomorrow - which could trigger a general election if the Tories lose - but the government is not allowing it to happen.

A Labour spokeswoman said it was “unprecedented” for ministers not to allow parliamentary time for a vote of confidence, which the party had been seeking on Wednesday.

But a government spokesman hit back, accusing Labour of “playing politics” by tabling a motion of no confidence in the government and the prime minister when Boris Johnson had already resigned.

“As the prime minister has already resigned and a leadership process is under way we do not feel this is a valuable use of parliamentary time,” the spokesman said.

“Should Labour amend their motion appropriately, they can have the next business day for it to be debated.”

Labour, however, said the action represented a “flagrant abuse of power to protect a discredited prime minister” and called on the Tory leadership candidates to denounce it.

“This clapped-out government is running scared and refusing to allow time to debate Labour’s vote of no confidence motion,” a spokeswoman said.

“This is totally unprecedented. Yet again the Tories are changing the rules to protect their own dodgy mates.”

The government is rejecting time for a no confidence vote in the Commons because Labour's motion was not tabled in the normal way and added wording about not having confidence while the PM remained in office, ITV News understands.

Sources say Labour's motion broke with convention, which is why the vote is being rejected and it would have been granted if it was tabled in the regular way.

Senior Labour backbencher Chris Bryant said Prime Minister Johnson was a "coward" for rejecting the motion.

The news came with Rishi Sunak striding ahead in the race to become prime minister, after gaining support from a number of his former Cabinet colleagues.

Who got through to the next round in the race to succeed Boris Johnson?

Eight candidates have made it through to the next round in the race to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister.

Mr Sunak had already guaranteed his place on the ballot paper for Wednesday's vote before the results were announced, by securing more than double the 20 nominations threshold.

Sajid Javid is the competition's most significant drop-out, with the ex-health secretary announcing his departure from the contest just before today's results were announced.

In a statement, he said: "I look forward to seeing the debate unfold and to see colleagues working together as a united Conservative party once the leadership election is concluded."

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt and backbencher Tom Tugendhat also secured their place on the ballot paper well ahead of time, as did Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

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Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt also made it through but reports say he had been struggling to get enough nominations and managed to scrape in late on.

Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch and Attorney General Suella Braverman also made it through to the next round, as did Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps dropped out of the race on Tuesday morning after failing to secure enough public support from Tory MPs to proceed, and threw his weight behind Mr Sunak.

The senior minister said on Twitter he'd chosen to back Mr Sunak because he has the "competence and experience" to be prime minister.

Rehman Chishti, a newly appointed Foreign Office minister who is largely unknown outside of Westminster, also dropped out after failing to secure a single publicly-declared nomination.

He tweeted: "I will not be taking my campaign any further for the leadership of our party @Conservatives as I have not been able to secure the necessary parliamentary backing".

Now what?

The competition's first official vote takes place on Wednesday. Any contender who does not get at least 30 supporters will be forced to drop out.

If all candidates receive 30 votes, then the MP to have the least support will be eliminated.

A second ballot will follow on Thursday with further ballots to be held next week until the list of candidates is reduced to a final two – who will then go forward into a postal ballot of party members.

The final two will then spend the summer campaigning around the country before a winner is announced on September 5.

What happened to Labour's plan for a vote of no confidence in the government?

With Prime Minister Johnson seeking to remain in Number 10 until a successor is appointed, Labour had been a motion of no confidence in the government in an attempt to get rid of him sooner.

But the government rejected the motion on a technicality, in a break with convention - it is understood there was an issue with the motion's wording.

Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans said he expects the government and Labour to hold further talks over a no confidence motion.

Labour MPs raised a series of points of order criticising the government for blocking plans to stage a Commons no confidence vote in Mr Johnson and his administration.

Mr Evans replied: "The principles concerning motions of no confidence are set out at paragraph 18.44 of Erskine May, which also gives examples of motions which have been debated and those which have not.

"Erskine May says: 'By established convention, the government always accedes to the demand from the leader of the opposition to allot a day for the discussion of a motion tabled by the official Opposition which, in the government's view, would have the effect of testing the confidence of the House.'

"I can only conclude therefore that the government has concluded the motion as tabled by the official Opposition does not have that effect.

"That is a matter, though, for the government rather than the chair. Can I just say there are seven more sitting days before recess and I, as Deputy Speaker, would anticipate there to be further discussions."

Erskine May, often referred to as "the Bible of parliamentary procedure", is the most authoritative and influential work on parliamentary procedure and constitutional conventions affecting Parliament.

Confirming his plans early on Tuesday, Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir told his shadow cabinet: "Labour is laying a vote of no confidence in this caretaker prime minister and his government.

"The Tory party has at last concluded that the prime minister is unfit for office, that was blindingly obvious a very, very long time ago. He is leaving because his own party has concluded that he can't be trusted.

"They can't now let him cling on for weeks, and weeks, and weeks until September 5. It would be intolerable for the country."

It would have left Tory MPs with a tough decision to make; many have publicly stated that Mr Johnson does not have their support and should leave, but if they vote with Labour it could trigger a general election, which many polls suggest the Tories would lose.

The vote would require a simple majority to find a winner.

Should the vote be approved and the Tories were to vote, it's likely that Parliament would be dissolved and a general election called.

Alternatively, opposition parties could attempt to form a minority government on the basis they could win a vote of confidence in the House, however that is unlikely.

Who is still in the running to replace Boris Johnson?

  • Rishi Sunak, former chancellor

  • Nadhim Zahawi, current chancellor

  • Liz Truss, foreign secretary

  • Suella Braverman, attorney general

  • Kemi Badenoch, equalities minister

  • Tom Tugendhat, backbencher

  • Jeremy Hunt, former health and foreign secretary

  • Penny Mordaunt, trade minister