Boris Johnson has a fight on his hands – and not the one you might suspect.
Having been preoccupied with a national general election campaign, polling released just days before the election revealed that the PM might struggle to hold on to his seat in the House of Commons.
The majority of Johnson’s Johnson’s seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip was cut to just 5,034 at the 2017 election. His Labour challenger, 25 year-old Ali Milani, is confident that he can unseat the PM.
This means that he’s got the smallest majority of any prime minister in the last 50 years.
Boris Johnson is nine points ahead of Labour in his seat. The combined Lib Dem/Green vote is ... nine points. https://t.co/2SWezJ7xsF
If Johnson loses his seat, is is likely that a Tory MP in a safe seat would quickly stand down to make way for him. He would then stand in a by-election, which he would likely win.
A defeat would certainly be humiliating for the Tory leader, but technically he might not have to resign. The Conservative Party constitution says that the leader of the party "shall be drawn from those elected to Parliament". Clause VII of the Labour Rule Book also says its leader "shall be elected from among Commons members of the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party]." Neither says explicitly that a leader who was no longer an MP would have to resign.
Does the PM have to be an MP?
While it’s often presumed that a prime minister will be an MP and sit in the Commons, there’s nothing in the UK constitution currently that says, if defeated, that the prime minister must step aside. Though political pressure to do so would surely be immense.
The process of appointing the prime minister assumes that they will be a parliamentarian, but there is nothing that indicates what should happen if they lose their seat.
At present, all of these questions are pure speculation. But, if one thing's for sure, the UK is in unchartered political waters.