What is a vote of no confidence, could Theresa May face a leadership challenge and how many MPs have demanded one?

After cancelling her crunch Brexit vote, fears are growing that she could be kicked  out of Downing Street. Here's how that might happen.

What is a vote of no confidence?

There are two kinds, both of which Theresa May will be desperate to avoid.

A motion of no confidence is moved in the House of Commons with the wording "that this House has no confidence in HM Government".

The backing of a majority of MPs would topple the Government. If a new Government with the support of the Commons cannot be formed within 14 days, an early General Election is called.

Labour Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer had said that the party would try to force a no confidence vote if Theresa May fails to win a crunch vote in the Commons on December 11.

It is one of only two ways in which an early General Election may be triggered under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011.

But the goalposts have shifted once again after Theresa May pulled the crunch vote in the face of near-certain failure.

The other kind is a process within the Conservative party for removing a leader.

Tory MPs can write to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee expressing no confidence in Mrs May.

If enough MPs demanded it there would be a vote of all Tory MPs and if she lost she would have to quit as party leader.

A group of Labour MPs previously urged Jeremy Corbyn to table a vote of no confidence in the Government, in order to expose the lack of support in the House of Commons.

The Telegraph also reported that Jacob Rees-Mogg is preparing his own vote of no confidence.

Could Theresa May face a leadership challenge?

The double resignation of Boris Johnson and David Davis sparked fears Tory MPs could revolt against the PM.

Some are said to be openly calling for her to be removed.

Under current rules, 15 per cent of Tory MPs must write to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, to trigger a vote of no confidence in Mrs May.

With 316 Tory MP, it needs at least 48 letters to trigger a vote.

All Tory MPs would then take part in a secret ballot on whether she should stay as leader.

If she lost there would be a leadership contest to find her replacement.

Candidates have to be nominated and seconded by fellow MPs. The top two after a round of ballots among MPs are put forward to a vote among the party membership.

Theresa May's agreed Brexit proposal, agreed by her Cabinet in November, prompted the resignation of Brexit secretary Dominic Raab.

Brexiteer backbenchers called on colleagues to send in letters of no confidence so they could hit the 48 target – but the coup failed to materialise.

How many MPs have called for a no confidence vote?

So far, 26 MPs have publicly said they have submitted letters – still 22 short of the necessary 48 to make Theresa May fight for her leadership.

Others may have sent in letters – which remain secret – but not publicly declared it.

And some who have put letters in may have later withdrawn them.

Only Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, knows how many letters he has received.

A no confidence vote will be triggered if the number equals 15 per cent or more of the party's MPs.

If May wins the vote, they can not challenge her leadership for another year.

But, if she loses, there will be a leadership election and she will not be allowed to run.

After May pulled the crunch vote, several prominent Welsh Labour politicians have urged the party's UK leader to table a vote of no confidence in her government.

MPs Chris Bryant and Owen Smith are among the 40 signatories to the letter to Jeremy Corbyn – along with Labour peer Lord Hain.

It comes as opposition leaders accused Mrs May of showing contempt for Parliament.

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