How Theresa May's Brexit Deal Can Get Through Parliament - We Did The Maths

Plus the numbers she'll need to survive as PM...

Is Theresa May the ultimate survivor? And can the prime minister get her Brexit deal through Parliament bitter opposition from so many MPs? These are the questions on everyone’s lips at Westminster today.

But the answer on her political future, and the future of her Brexit deal, comes down to how many of her opponents back their words up with actions, which makes it a numbers game.

So, here’s what you need to know:

Can the PM survive a no confidence vote?

Under the Conservative Party rules, to trigger a no confidence vote 15% of MPs must write to the current chair of the party’s governing 1922 committee, Graham Brady.

There are 316 Conservative MPs in parliament, so it would take 48 letters to do the job.

Should the prime minister contest the no confidence vote, the vote would go to all Tory MPs and May would need the support of at least half - 159 - to stay in power.

There are thought to be around 70 members of the hard Brexit Tory faction the European Research Group, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the vast majority are said to be furious about May’s Brexit plan.

So, that’s not enough to depose her. Hardline Brexiteers would need some Tory Remainers to rebel too - and 11 have voted against May on Brexit legislation, but few have shown an appetite to oust May.

It is a risky strategy to go down the no confidence route. Should May survive, her opponents are barred from another challenge for 12 months.

Will Theresa May get her Brexit deal through Parliament?

Given the DUP and so many of her own backbenchers are against the deal, the received wisdom says: no. But here’s how it could be possible.

How many MPs are in which party?

  • Tory 316
  • Labour 257
  • Lib Dem 12
  • SNP 35
  • DUP 10
  • Sinn Fein 7
  • Green 1
  • Plaid Cmyru 4
  • Independent 7

As Sinn Fein MPs do not take up their seats, the voting total is 639 and the threshold for a majority threshold is 320.

Jeremy Corbyn told the House of Commons on Thursday that May’s withdrawal agreement does not meet the Labour Party’s “six tests”, therefore it is highly likely that he will tell his MPs to vote against it when May puts her deal to the House.

Could any Labour MPs rebel?

Labour MPs such as Caroline Flint, Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell, who have a high number of Brexit-voting constituents, have previously hinted they could be tempted, but the prospect of this is now fading.

Veteran Labour Brexiteer Kate Hoey has said May’s deal does not protect the Union, and she will vote against it. Other Brexit-leaning Labour MPs, such as Dennis Skinner, are close to Corbyn and will follow his lead.

Others on the Labour backbenches sympathetic to a second referendum believe voting down the deal is the best route to securing one.

So, it is highly likely all 257 Labour MPs will vote against May’s deal.

The SNP favour single market and customs union membership for Scotland. The nation voted 62% to remain and Nicola Sturgeon has been clear that her party will do nothing that props up the Conservative government in Westminster.

It is therefore likely all 35 SNP MPs will vote against the deal.

They will be joined by the 12 Lib Dem MPs, 4 Plaid Cmyru MPs and 1 Green MP.

The DUP, meanwhile, has said the deal rips up the Union, so it is likely all 10 DUP MPs will vote against the deal

There are around 70 members of the hard Brexit Tory faction the European Research Group (ERG) who are likely to vote down the deal.

Esther McVey and Dominic Raab’s resignations will only bolster the number of Tory Brexiteers willing to show their teeth.

Around 11 Tory remainers have already rebelled on Brexit legislation the PM has tried to get through Parliament. This was before transport minister Jo Johnson resigned and called for a re-run of the referendum last week.

A majority of Tory MPs will vote with the Prime Minister, but given her slim majority and the dissent at the fringes on both sides of the argument, it is highly unlikely the deal will get through Parliament in its current form.

At a conservative estimate that, in total, there are almost 400 MPs willing to vote down Theresa May’s deal.

So, what next?

A Downing Street spokesman told reporters on Wednesday that much of the future framework and political declaration was yet to be worked out. Both will be discussed at an EU summit in November.

Should May return from the continent having secured greater concessions on customs and on single market access, she may make a last ditch attempt to resurrect the deal.

If not, and the threat of a no-deal Brexit looms large, the Opposition may be prepared to table a motion of no-confidence in the government.

Again, a majority of MPs must back such a motion, but it is more difficult for the government to be toppled.

Since the Fixed Term Parliament Act was introduced in 2011, the government has 14 days in which to win a vote.

Tory MPs who will remember how Labour clawed back seats from the Tories at the last general election will also be nervous of backing such a motion.

UPDATE: This article was updated to reflect that DUP MP Ian Paisley takes the number of DUP MPs to 10. Paisley will have returned from a suspension by the time a vote on the deal will take place.

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