What is the government’s exact majority?

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Since June 9th, I’ve been keeping a little spreadsheet to show the exact majority of the government.

First of all, the question arose: ‘What is the working majority of the government?’ That is, if the DUP don’t vote with the government but simply abstain (because they don’t want Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister). My calculations suggest this working majority is four, based on the following assumptions:

As you can see, I assume that Sylvia Hermon would abstain, given her similar opposition to Jeremy Corbyn in Number Ten. I’m also assuming that the Deputy Speakers would abstain.

If we then go to the government’s majority with DUP support, it is fourteen, as follows:

Please let me know any errors I have made, either in rationale or maths, in the comments below.

The question then arises: ‘How long will the government’s majority, working or otherwise, last?’

This often boils down, unfortunately, to an actuarial discussion.

The John Major government 1992-1997 suffered a high amount of by-election losses for various reasons. It is said that Theresa May will not suffer such a high rate of attrition in her team, due to it being somewhat younger. I can only find six Tory MPs over the age of 70 (Clarke, Bottomley, Cash, Beresford, Chope and (Glyn) Davies). Please enlighten me if you can correct me on that.

How does this compare to the Tory MPs elected in 1992 that Major was dealing with? I suspect there were more over the age of 70, but currently I cannot find an analysis of the 1992 Parliament by age. If anyone can spot one, please let me know in the comments below. However, we should bear in mind that none of the MPs who sadly died, causing by-elections, during the 1992-1997 parliament were older than 63 years old. The youngest was only 45 years old.

John Major started in 1992 with a majority of 21. He lost nine MPs through death (the final vacancy at Meriden did not have a by-election because it was so close to the eventual 1997 general election) and three MPs via defections.

Any other comments about the likely longevity of the Conservative government are also welcome. I can’t help thinking the Northern Ireland dimension is likely to banjax the government, or at least Theresa May’s leadership. We may find out more about that today.


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