Parliamentary Arithmetic for Dummies (Tory majority is a bit less slim than it looks)

How big is the Tory majority? Most media commentary keeps getting the real number wrong, and here’s why.

The full results are as follows:

331 Cons

232 Lab

56 SNP

8 Lib Dem

8 DUP

4 SF

11 Others

650 Total

So on these numbers it looks like there are 331 Tories versus 319 “others” – a majority of 12 in a straight vote? No.

The 331 ‘Tories’ include the Speaker (John Bercow) and another Tory who will be elected as one of his deputies.

The 232 Labour includes 2 who will be elected as deputy speakers.

None of the above four vote, so that reduces the Tories to 329 and Labour to 230, and the number of voting MPs to 646.

The 4 Sinn Fein MPs also don’t vote, reducing the number of voting MPs to 642.

So of voting MPs there are 329 Tory MPs and 313 ‘others’ – so their real majority is 16.

So that is 8 by-elections in Tory seats they can lose before they forfeit their majority. There were 21 by-elections during the last Parliament, but if you are a Tory opponent don’t get excited – most of them were in opposition seats (see here). So it is quite likely the Tory majority will, arithmetically at least, hold throughout the Parliament.

 

 

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