What is a Vote of No Confidence?
A vote of no confidence is one way that opposition parties can seek to overthrow the Government.
- To start the process the Leader of the Opposition must ‘table‘ a vote of no confidence in the Government, which triggers a vote in the House of Commons the next day.
- Members of Parliament then meet the next day to vote on whether they have confidence in the Government. To stay in power, the Government must secure at least half of voting MPs.
- If they fail to win support, and more than half of MPs vote against the Government, then a countdown of 14 days will begin.
- There will then be an attempt to form a new Government which has the support of a majority of MPs. For example, the opposition might join up with a smaller party (or parties) to form a coalition to become a new Government.
- If, within these 14 days, they cannot form a new Government, a General Election will be called.
The country will then head to the polls and vote on who should be their local MP. The political party with the most MPs at the end of the election will either form the Government alone, or they may form the basis of a coalition Government (working with other parties to command a ‘majority’ of MPs in the House of Commons).
Motions of no confidence do not happen often, as Government’s usually have a majority of MPs in the House of Commons who will not vote against their own party staying in power. However they are sometimes called when the Government suffers a large defeat on an issue and their mandate is called into question.
Leader of the Opposition – Leader of the second largest political party in Parliament
Table – Tabling is the act of formally putting forward a question, a motion or an amendment in the Commons or the Lords.