As predicted by most, May won the no confidence vote last night comfortably, 200-117. Rees-Mogg was in there almost instantly trying to paint it as a loss for the prime minister, but it wasn’t. There is some talk about her authority being weakened: it was dealt a massive blow with the 2017 general election result and was finished last week when she had to pull a vote on something she has spent her entire premiership working on because she was facing a triple-digit loss. She can’t have less authority than she did pre-confidence vote because it was already at a point lower than any prime minister who had then carried on has ever experienced.
What happens now? May stays in Number 10 for as long as she needs to resolve the Brexit issue, so long as that doesn’t bleed into 2021. Since the momentous events of the last week, and particularly after last night, the choices have narrowed.
One possibility I have to get out of the way is that Theresa May manages to extract some sort of fig leaf from the EU Commission that allows enough of her MPs to support her deal. This is monumentally unlikely – I’d rate an asteroid wiping out all mammalian life within the next fortnight a much great possibility. One, the EU aren’t likely to give her anything substantial (and I doubt she’s really trying on that front now anyhow) and even if by some miracle they did, most of the 117 Tory MPs who voted against her wouldn’t budge anyhow no matter what. This has become a standoff; things have become personal. May has to look at 117 of her own MPs as being lost to her in regard to her Brexit deal.
If she wants to get her deal through, she has to figure out how she gets 125 votes from outside of her own party (and the DUP). The confidence vote last night helped her in this enormously; whereas before she would have been nervous about courting Labour MPs too obviously for fear of reaction within the Tory camp, now she doesn’t need to worry. She’s very, very likely finished after all of this and her deal is all she has left. May is now free use any means necessary. One can say that this will cause huge damage to her party, but by clinging on in the face of the discontent that exists, she’s doing that already. That bird has flown.
The ways that are available to get these 125 votes from the opposition benches are very slim. In fact, I think it’s down to only one possibility: a second referendum. Corbyn will be determined to vote against the vote no matter what. He or whoever it is around him has designed the six tests as to be impossible to pass. Same access to the single market and customs union without being in either – this is impossible and Corbyn knows it. The only way to get Labour votes then is to appeal to the Chuka Ummuna group who don’t like Corbyn anyhow and who want to Remain. The offer of a referendum is the only thing that I think has any chance of getting enough of these MPs on board, and you could almost certainly get the Lib Dems and the SNP along if you had the Labour numbers and then she might have just enough votes.
May might instead try and run out the clock, avoid the referendum question for as long as possible and hope everyone budges. If she tries this, it won’t work. Then we’re left with the only thing left to her: revoke Article 50. That would be hugely embarrassing for the country and for the Conservative party. It might be where we end up.
Harry Peachment says
MAY WINS NO CONFIDENCE VOTE BY 200 TO 117.
Just found this out on the radio – blimey! Thought some of you politicos might be interested!
Judging on past behaviour, I think May will try to run down the clock.
If she held a referendum, she would lose it. First consider who would be advocating support for the government deal; then think about how anyone would go about arguing for it. The only pro Brexit vote that would have a chance would be a re-run of a fantasy Brexit, but it would not be so easy a second time around.
What will happen, most certainly, is that she and her government will antagonise the rest of the EU as well as very many within the UK. She could end up rescinding Article 50 at the very moment that other countries in the EU want to seen the back of her and the UK.
Bye bye G7 says
If you had read any of my comments for the past 4 months I have been saying nothing else
Remain 2 Leave 1
No brainer knocks corbyn out the game too
Chris Phillips says
There’s a funny sort of contradiction in a lot of the discussions of Brexit.
Advocates of a referendum seem to think that whatever the options on offer, the public will choose something other than No Deal.
Yet they also seem to be assuming that the House of Commons, faced with the choice of May’s Deal or No Deal, will keep rejecting May’s Deal, and will therefore in effect choose No Deal.
To my mind that really doesn’t make sense.
Paul W says
To which you might add, it assumes the House of Commons will implement what the public decides. Somehow I don’t think the voters will fall for that old flannel again.