IDS loses Tory no confidence vote

The Quiet Man of British politics, Ian Duncan Smith, departed Conservative Central Office last night for the comparative calm of the backbenches after he failed to win a crucial confidence vote.

Sir Michael Spicer, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, announced at 7pm last night that IDS had lost the motion by 90-75 votes – his two-year tenure was over. And in so doing, the Tories had conspired to see an end to their third leader in six years.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Duncan Smith, flanked by his frontbench team and escorted by his wife Betsy, gave a short speech to the press pack outside Central Office.

The outgoing leader stressed that he would not give public backing to any particular candidate, but he pledged to offer his successor – whomever that may be – "absolute loyalty and support".

He added: "We've had a lot of words over the last few days. This is not a time for many more. The Parliamentary Party has spoken – and I will stand down as leader when a successor has been chosen.

"I am particularly sorry that I will not have the opportunity to fulfil my promises to people in some of the poorest communities of this country. But loyally from the backbenches, I will continue my campaign for social justice.

IDS will continue to serve as leader of the party whilst a successor is found, the vote for which begins on November 11.

The MP for Chingford & Woodford Green began yesterday by doing the rounds on TV and radio, defending his record and putting a brave face on a vote that he was widely tipped to lose badly.

Up until this week, observers believed that the former British army captain would perhaps only muster 60 votes in favour, but a late rally on Wednesday saw him take 75 votes – eight short of the minimum necessary to retain his position.

Then came the Commons throng at Prime Minister's Questions, and then the task of delivering the best speech of his career to his Parliamentary Party shortly before voting began at 3.30pm. By all accounts, he achieved the latter but it was not enough for a parliamentary party, sharply divided between a traditionalist right wing and left-leaning modernisers, which has learned to dispose of its masters.

IDS supporters had pointed out (particularly since the plotting gained momentum at the Tory Party Conference earlier this month) that he must stay on as he was the first leader to be chosen by the 325,000 members of the constituency branches. Straw polls earlier this week suggested that IDS retained the support of more than three-quarters of party branches chairmen – but crucially that was not reflected in the party's 165 MPs.

While the Conservatives attempt to find another leader who will take them into the next general election – which is only 18 months away – IDS quipped that anyone who really wanted to lead the party would "need their head examined". Shadow Chancellor Michael Howard is the bookies favourite.


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