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How Britain’s Parliament Could Bring Down Boris Johnson

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UK's Johnson Clings On: What Happens Next?
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is just the latest in a long line of British leaders to risk being kicked out while in office. Under the UK political system, either the elected Parliament -- or a majority of Johnson’s own Conservative Party lawmakers -- can bring him down without an election and install a new prime minister. Pressure has been building on Johnson for months after a series of scandals, including the so-called “partygate” events in 10 Downing Street during the pandemic, for which the 58-year-old leader became the first premier found to have broken the law while in the top job. His chances of survival could depend on whether rules governing how the Tory party chooses its leaders are overturned. 

The process is governed by a group of rank-and-file Conservative members of Parliament, or MPs, known as the 1922 committee. The name is a reference to a general election a century ago, which was won by the Conservatives after the collapse of a coalition government. Here’s how it works: MPs can submit letters to its Chairman Graham Brady, calling for a confidence vote in the party leader. Brady is responsible for administering the proceedings and keeps the correspondence secret. Letters from 15% of Conservative MPs -- currently 54 lawmakers -- are required to force a ballot, and Johnson would have to secure a simple majority to remain in office.