Who is Sir Graham Brady, the Tory MP ripping up rules to find new prime minister?

Chairman of the 1922 Committee will oversee week-long contest to replace Liz Truss

The 1922 Committee has the power to remove Prime Minister Liz Truss. Photo: William Wragg MP / Twitter
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

All eyes on Thursday turned to the Conservative party's rulemaker, Sir Graham Brady, as he began organising the one-week contest that will select Britain's next prime minister.

Liz Truss announced her resignation on Thursday, after barely six weeks in office, after her policies flopped spectacularly with markets, voters and MPs.

With no appetite in the party for a drawn-out contest, Ms Truss said the next leader would be chosen within a week.

But it will be up to Mr Brady to set out the rules for the leadership election. The short timeline suggests the grassroots Tory membership will not be given a say, with the decision left to Conservative MPs.

Mr Brady was in Downing Street shortly before Ms Truss's announcement, after a growing number of MPs wrote to him to call for her resignation.

Letters to Mr Brady, in his role as chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, are the mechanism by which Tory MPs can trigger a vote of no confidence if enough MPs demand one.

In the event, no ballot was necessary because Ms Truss accepted that her authority was gone and that she no longer had the support of the majority of MPs.

Sir Graham, the man in the eye of the storm, has seen three prime ministers leave office with varying degrees of his help.

The MP for Altrincham and Sale West, near Manchester, has been chairman of the 1922 Committee since 2010 when David Cameron was prime minister.

In that time there have been votes of no confidence against two prime ministers — Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Questions over Ms May’s leadership largely revolved around her handling of Brexit negotiations with the EU.

Mr Johnson won the confidence vote but it left him politically wounded and he was soon out of office.

For Ms Truss to face an imminent vote, rules must be changed.

Normally, time would be on her side as a newly elected party leader because committee rules say there cannot be a challenge in the first year.

But the committee has the power to change its own rules, something it has done before, and MPs were angry after the budget U-turn and subsequent chaos.

Under the existing rules, 15 per cent of the 356 Conservative MPs would have needed to write a letter requesting a confidence vote.

Sir Graham was a shadow minister during the party's time out of power but he has never had a ministerial post. In 2010, he was made chairman of the 1922 Committee.

He is 55 and married with two children and has largely stayed away from the greasy-pole climb to higher positions of power.

In May 2019, he resigned as committee chairman to consider a run for prime minister in the contest won by Mr Johnson. In the event, he did not enter the race.

Six weeks ago, Sir Graham announced that Ms Truss had won the party leadership contest and embraced her on stage.

Her tenure as prime minister was shorter than anyone at the time could have imagined.

Updated: October 20, 2022, 1:26 PM