Jacob Rees-Mogg’s efforts to oust Theresa May appear to have stalled as no-confidence letters fail to arrive
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s efforts to oust Theresa May appear to have stalled as Tory colleagues failed to back his call for a motion of no confidence in their leader.
The Brexiteer and his allies had been confident that the 48 letters needed to trigger a confidence vote would be submitted by Tuesday – if they had not already been sent to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee.
But the steady trickle of letters failed to turn into a torrent, leading to Mr Rees-Mogg being mocked as the leader of an ineffectual “Dad’s Army” rather than the triumphant saviour of Brexiteers’ hopes.
“I’ve always admired Captain Mainwaring,” Mr Rees-Mogg said when challenged about the situation.
Not being able to account for £350 million was a deliberate lie but not being able to account for 48 looks like incompetence as well— Sarah Wollaston MP (@sarahwollaston) November 20, 2018
Mr Rees-Mogg announced his letter had been sent at a press conference on Thursday outside the gates of Parliament.
Former Brexit minister Steve Baker, one of the leaders behind the letter-writing campaign, said on Friday he had been speaking to colleagues and his count was “a little over 48” with another dozen “probable”.
But so far there has been no indication that the threshold has been reached and less than half the number required have publicly confirmed they have written to Sir Graham.
Mr Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) of pro-Brexit Tories, insisted that “patience is a virtue” and “we will see what letters come in due time”, but acknowledged that the threshold may not be reached.
“Do 47 want to come with me or not? I may find that they don’t or they don’t do it today, but when we get the meaningful vote. That’s a decision for them.”
Fellow Tories mocked the campaign led by the two Brexiteers.
Sarah Wollaston, who is calling for a second referendum, said the failure to gather 48 letters “looks like incompetence”, adding: “Why would anyone trust these people on Brexit when they can’t even trust each other.”
Evening Standard editor and former chancellor George Osborne poked fun at Mr Rees-Mogg on the front page of his newspaper, mocking up a picture of him in a Dad’s Army uniform with the headline “stupid boys” – a reference to Captain Mainwaring’s catchphrase.
Former MP Ben Gummer said: “Has anyone else noticed that all these oh-so-clever people who know far, far better than anyone else how to do Brexit / run a car company / do customs border checks / know everything ad nauseam are taking five days to learn to count to 48?”
Brexit-backer Michael Fabricant said there was “no evidence” that enough Tory MPs would vote to topple Mrs May and “so far 48 names cannot be found even to trigger the confidence vote despite the MPs remaining anonymous if they wish”.
There is no gamble. There is absolutely NO evidence that at this stage 179 Conservative MPs are prepared to topple the PM.— Michael Fabricant 🇬🇧 (@Mike_Fabricant) November 20, 2018
So far 48 names cannot be found even to trigger the confidence vote despite the MPs remaining anonymous if they wish. #TimetoGetReal https://t.co/6mwKZ8RsCV
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said “these people struggle to count” and “the only thing blowing up right now is the final vestige of the idea that the ERG are top notch parliamentary guerrilla group”.