What is the 1922 committee? Who are members, why is it called that, and rules for Tory leadership election
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The 1922 Committee was at the centre of a political storm, after all eyes turned to the group as Prime Minister Boris Johnson looked to be remaining in power.
However, on 7 July, Mr Johnson conceeded that he would not be able to continue in the role, offering his resignation after a slew of government ministers quit their roles.
MPs already held a vote of no confidence in the leader last month, which he won, but the 1922 Committee may have still had some power in removing him forcibly if Mr Johnson had chosen to stay on.
But why is the group so vital, what do they do and who is in the group?
What is the 1922 committee?
The 1922 committee, despite its name, was created in April 1923 as an attempt by the newly elected Tory MPs in the 1922 election to “facilitate cooperation within the party.”
‘The 22’ is made up of Tory backbenchers, allowing such MPs to discuss their views on current issues within the party separately from the frontbench MPs, with no fear of being reprimanded by those higher up in the party.
Members meet weekly to discuss current issues within the party, and meet monthly with the leader of the party to convey the issues raised.
Despite membership being limited to only backbenchers, since 2010 frontbenchers have been invited to attend meetings, and the group is still under the control of party whips.
The group is also colloquially known as “the men in grey suits”, often thought of as a reference to how Margaret Thatcher referred to the group.
Why is it called the 1922 Committee?
The 1922 committee, despite its name, was created in April 1923.
This was an attempt by the newly-elected Tory MPs in the 1922 election to “facilitate cooperation within the party.”
The group is therefore named after this intake of Tory MPs who created the group.
Who are members of the 1922 committee?
A fresh election for 1922 Committee members took place on Monday 11 July.
Currently the committee chair is Sir Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West.
William Wragg and Nusrat Ghani have been re-elected as vice chairs of the parliamentary group.
Gary Sambrook and Bob Blackman serve as secretaries of the 1922 Committee, while Geoffrey Clifton-Brown takes the role of treasurer.
Rounding out the committee as executive members are Aaron Bell, Miriam Cates, Jo Gideon, Richard Graham, Chris Green, Robert Halfon, Sally-Ann Hart, Andrew Jones, Tom Randall, David Simmonds, John Stevenson and Martin Vickers.
Why is the 1922 committee so important?
While made up of Tory backbenchers, the group is undoubtedly one of the most important for the Prime Minister or party leader.
This is because the group hold the power to table a vote of no-confidence in a leader or trigger a leadership election.
‘The 22’ assesses, ballots and organises any leadership vote.
A vote of no-confidence or triggering of a leadership election can happen if 15% of Tory MPs write a letter to the chairman of the 1922 committee asking for the party to do so; this minority currently stands at 54 MPs.
Most recently, the tactic has been used against former Prime Minister Theresa May in April 2018.
Ms May faced a leadership contest after Tory MPs wrote to the committee to ask for a leadership contest, which she ultimately won with a majority of 83 votes.
As the move against her had failed, the then-Prime Minister could not be challenged again by MPs for another year, although she resigned from her position on 24 May, 2019.
Iain Duncan Smith was the last Conservative leader who lost a leadership vote that was created via the 1922 committee, having lost in 2003.
How many votes of confidence can be held for one Prime Minister?
Under current 1922 committee rules, a vote of confidence can only be held against the serving Prime Minister once per year.
As Boris Johnson has already survived a vote of confidence in June 2022, he may have been hoping that he had held onto his position for at least the next 12 months.
There was mounting pressure from within the party to change these rules, with many MPs unhappy that Boris Johnson was not orginally willing to resign.
A new 1922 committee election is due to happen on Monday 11 July, with MPs able to choose new members of the group.
Reports suggested that Tory rebels are planning on electing members who will allow for the change to the rules to happen.
Although Mr Johnson has now stepped down, MPs may still choose to elect those who would be willing to change this rule in order to prevent such a situation happening once again.
What is the 1922 Committee’s role in leadership elections?
Following Mr Johnson’s resignation, the announcement of a new leadership contest was made.
The 1922 Committee spearheads leaderships contests within the party taking place.
The first few rounds of the leadership contest is voted on by parliamentary MPs, during ballots facilitated by the committee.
Depending on how many candidates are in the race to begin with, several votes may take place in order to whittle the candidate list down to just two people.
The threshold for each round is chosen by the 1922 Committee, with candidates who do not gain enough votes being placed out of the contest.
The first ballot to elect Mr Johnson’s replacement has already taken place.
Eight candidates - Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat, Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt, Nadhim Zahwai, Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman - were on the ballot, however Mr Hunt and Mr Zahawi dropped out after failing to reach the 1922 Committee’s threshold of 30 votes to progress.
After the contest has reached a point where only two candidates remain, a run-off vote is then opened up to Conservative Party members throughout the UK, who will chose the next leader and the next Prime Minister of the UK.