Johnson’s dilemma – the maths

It is to use a cliché, like watching a car crash in slow motion. Watching MPs on the government benches suddenly remembering where they left their scruples. To date neither the MP for Taunton (Rebecca Pow) or the MP for Wells (James Heappey) have managed to find theirs. Hopefully they are still looking.

Meanwhile some have decided integrity and honesty are indeed worthwhile traits in a Prime Minister. So far (we are just past 2pm on Wednesday 6 July) there have been 21 resignations from Johnson’s government. The government payroll comprises MPs who serve as:

  • Cabinet Members,
  • Ministers of State,
  • Parliamentary Private Secretaries
  • and a handful of Trade Envoys

In total that comes out at 162 MPs in all.

Johnson currently has 358 MPs on the Conservative benches to choose from. That is after the two by-election defeats last month and excludes MPs like David Warburton. (MP for Somerton & Frome). Mr Warburton currently sits as an Independent as he has had the Conservative Whip withdrawn.

So if he had a government on Monday with 162 MPs serving, he had a pool of 196 MPs (162+196=358) to draw on for future appointments. Which sounds plenty.

Except, remember that 148 of them voted no confidence in Johnson on 6 June. That included the MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, Ian Liddell Grainger. We must assume they would not join a Johnson Government. Leaving those aside from the 196 available, that leaves just 48 MPs left as potential new members of the government.

In the last 24 hours there have been 21 resignations from the government ( as of 2pm). So assuming there are no more resignations (unlikely) there will be 21 new replacements needed.

From a pool of 48 MPs. Actually 47 as previous Johnson supporter, Robert Jenrick has just said he cannot support the Prime Minister

So if you are Conservative and didn’t actually vote no confidence in Johnson, you have a 21/47 chance of being called. In other words nearly one in two. The quality bar for new appointments in this regime is being set refreshingly low. Who knows, maybe even the MP for Yeovil, Marcus Fysh, will get the call?

The serious point is that it would only take another handful of Ministers to go before forming a Johnson government becomes mathematically impossible.

3.45pm 6 July update

Things are moving rapidly. So let’s just take a look at the maths again. As of 4pm the number of resignations from government totals 28. That excludes Michael Gove who is telling Johnson to go but hasn’t yet resigned his seat. But there have been a further 8 MPs who have said they no longer support Johnson: Liam Fox, Robert Buckland, Robert Halfon, Tom Hunt, Chris Skidmore and Lee Anderson, Sally-Ann Hart, and Anthony Browne.

Coming back to our maths again that leaves a pool of 39 MPs available to fill 28 posts in government. It is getting close.

6.30pm 6 July update

We have finally reached the point where it is virtually impossible to form a government. There are now a total of 37 resignations and with two more speaking out against Johnson there are only 37 MPs available who have not either called for Johnson to go, or voted for him to go. This is probably why a Cabinet delegation is in Downing Street as we speak pointing out the inevitable.


  1. Ingrid Meecham Reply

    Judging by his track record with constituents, even if he gets the call he’ll probably ignore it.

  2. Graham Livings Reply

    “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say and let us have done with you. In the name of God go”!

    “Ich Dien”!

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