Government tables confidence motion in itself after rejecting Labour bid to oust Boris Johnson

A general election could be triggered if the government loses the vote. Credit: Parliament

The government has tabled a confidence motion in itself after rejecting Labour's bid for a Commons vote yesterday which could have triggered a general election.

Boris Johnson plans to open the debate Monday, his press secretary said, with MPs set to be asked to decide whether "this House has confidence in Her Majesty's government".

Labour said the only reason for the government tabling a motion of confidence in itself was because it feared losing a vote on the original wording, which specifically expressed no confidence in both the government and Mr Johnson.

News of the vote emerged as Mr Johnson and Keir Starmer went head to head at PMQs - the prime minister's first since announcing he would step down and his second last before leaving the role.

Mr Johnson was labelled a "coward" on Tuesday by Labour MP Chris Bryant for rejecting a request for a vote of no confidence in the government - a move Labour described as "unprecedented" for breaking with convention.

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.

According to parliamentary convention, a government should always allow Commons time for a vote of no confidence, but sources said the motion was rejected because its wording was not in line with convention.

Explaining the motion for a confidence vote on Monday, a government spokeswoman said: "Labour were given the option to table a straightforward vote of no confidence in the government in keeping with convention, however they chose not to.

"To remedy this, we are tabling a motion which gives the House the opportunity to decide if it has confidence in the government.

"The government will always allow time for appropriate House matters whilst ensuring that it delivers parliamentary business to help improve people's everyday lives."

A Labour spokesman hit back: "The motion that we tabled was in order, the clerks ruled it in order, we had precedent based on the 1965 vote of no confidence there was with Ted Heath and Harold Wilson.

"If the government wants to table a different motion, that's obviously up to them.

"But what's clear is that the government was concerned it would lose the vote on the motion that we had put forward, otherwise why are they putting forward this alternative motion on Monday?

"We look forward to the dozens of Conservative MPs who have already expressed no confidence in Boris Johnson in writing to vote accordingly next week because to do anything else would be brazen hypocrisy."

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Labour planned the vote as a way of ousting Mr Johnson from Downing Street before the conclusion of the Tory leadership debate on September 5.

It would have left Tory MPs with a tough decision to make; many have publicly stated 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 government lose Monday's 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.