Sir Graham Brady once joked that the stack of letters calling for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister still had ‘an element of back and forth traffic’. “It’s not like a thermometer outside the local hospital showing how much money has been raised.”
The MP for Altrincham and Sale West, who is the ‘shop steward’ of the Tory MPs leading the 1922 committee, could become its first chairman to oversee two votes of no confidence, having held the post for more than a year. decade.
If the threshold of 54 letters given to him is reached this week, the timing of an announcement will be his decision. He must also ascertain the intentions of the authors of the letter. On the eve of Theresa May’s vote of confidence, he recalled, letters were still being deposited and withdrawn, but he judged that the threshold had clearly been crossed.
Even then, mindful of his image as a paragon of discretion, he did not reveal to May exactly how many over-the-threshold letters had been handed to him when he phoned her just after 9.30pm the day before the vote.
She survived the challenge, but Brady’s power only grew. As pressure mounted for her to set a departure date, Brady visited the Prime Minister and told him he had a letter containing the result of a 1922 executive vote on whether to change the rules to allow another vote of confidence. take place. He did not reveal the result of the vote. She named a date.
In the paranoid world of Westminster there is always a fear of leaks, but no letter has ever leaked in the past and Brady always insists on his sensitivity – with a smile that often suggests he appreciates the position of intelligence he holds. to keep busy. No Brady staff have access to the letters or emails.
He also tactfully warned journalists and enthusiastic MPs to be careful of statements made in public, recalling several instances where MPs had said publicly that they had sent a letter, or withdrawn one, or that they did not would never send one, when the opposite was true.
Despite how seriously Brady takes his neutral role as president, he has not been shy about rebelling and has been highly critical of Johnson’s lockdown policies and May’s Brexit deal, breaking with the convention of previous presidents. of the committee, which largely refrained from public comment on the policy.
An outspoken Brexiter, he initially voted against May’s Withdrawal Agreement, although he relented the last time he asked. In the frenzy of Brexit votes, his name went on a successful amendment, backed by the Prime Minister, to replace the backstop with ‘alternative arrangements’ – an amendment that meant nothing and went nowhere .
He’s not without ambition either, and rumor has it that he plans to run as a dark horse for management. He is close to other Johnson critics, including Mark Harper and Steve Baker, who could sway the choice of the next leader.
Brady made the unusual decision to recuse himself from overseeing the leadership contest that led to Johnson’s coronation. His absence was apparently due to the fact that he planned to run as a candidate himself, but he never launched a campaign.
During the pandemic, Brady has become one of the most outspoken MPs speaking out against Covid lockdown policies, saying the country has been “terrorized” by restrictions he called draconian and illogical.
Relations between Brady and Johnson became hopelessly strained after the whips tacitly backed an attempt last year to replace him as chair of the 1922 Committee with a more favorable candidate, Heather Wheeler. Brady took up the challenge, which most MPs saw as transparent in intent.
With the Covid lockdowns debate behind him, Brady has not spoken of any new policy differences with the Prime Minister recently, but he would be forgiven for being nervous about his own stance – his Greater Manchester seat is a key target for the Labor Party.