What is the 1922 committee - who are the members of the Conservative backbench group, and what do they do?

Former chief whip Mark Harper has submitted a letter of no-confidence in Boris Johnson to the 1922 committee

<p>The 1922 committee, pictured in 2019. (Credit: Getty)</p>

The 1922 committee, pictured in 2019. (Credit: Getty)

Boris Johnson finds himself as the centre of questions over his position once again after he was fined for his participation in a rule-breaking Partygate gathering.

The Prime Minister has been lambasted by opposition politicians calling for him to resign after he, his wife and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined £50 each for breaking Covid rules at a gathering on 19 June 2020.

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Most Tory MPs have backed their leader, however not everyone has given Mr Johnson their support.

Former chief whip of the Tory party Mark Harper has become the first MP to declare that they have submitted a letter of no-confidence to the 1922 committee.

The committee, made up of backbench Conservative MPs, plays an important role for any Prime Minister which belongs to the party.

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.

Who is in the 1922 committee?

Currently the committee chair is Sir Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West.

William Wragg and Nusrat Ghani serve as vice-chairs of the committee, Bob Blackman and Gary Sambrook serve as executive secretaries and Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown serves as treasurer.

Rounding out the committee as executive members are Karl McCartney, Sir Bernard Jenkin, Jason McCartney, Nicola Richards, Sheryll Murray, Richard Holden 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.

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