Much fuss and bother, but little of substance. For all the smoke and heat, it’s still a choice between Theresa May’s customs union (leaving the United Kingdom subject to European Union policy with no say in its making) and backstop (a politically unacceptable customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom) deal, a “hard” Brexit with no deal, or no Brexit at all. The customs union and backstop deal cannot pass the House of Commons even if May continues to animate the corpse, so it will be one of the other two, unless May accedes to a second referendum, in which case her deal could be an option presented to voters. And the more she says she isn’t holding a second referendum, the more I think she will.
Labour deliberately chose a form of words that was different from that formally required to begin the process of trying to force a general election under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, arguing that if May were to be defeated, it would have “political force”.
The 2011 act says that a no-confidence motion must use the following text to be binding: “This house has no confidence in Her Majesty’s government.”
If submitted by the leader of the opposition, such a motion has to be debated the next day and, if the government were defeated, May would almost certainly have to resign. A new government would have to be formed in 14 days or else an election would take place.
Labour had the option of tabling a revised, binding confidence motion after Corbyn’s intervention until the Commons rose at 9pm but chose not do so. A spokesman said the party would judge “day by day” when it was best to act.
Oh, and by the way, when you spell “Euroskeptic” with a ‘c’ rather than a ‘k,’ I’m liable to read it as “Euroseptic” (with neither the ‘c’ nor the ‘k’) and I’m still thinking about what that might even mean.
Heather Stewart, “No 10 denies making plans for second Brexit referendum,” Guardian, December 16, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/16/no-10-denies-making-plans-for-second-brexit-referendum
Kevin Rawlinson, “Jeremy Corbyn demands vote of no confidence in Theresa May,” Guardian, December 17, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/17/corbyn-demands-vote-of-no-confidence-in-theresa-may
Dan Sabbagh, “Brexit: Labour and Tories clash over call for confidence vote,” Guardian, December 18, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/17/theresa-may-intensifies-warnings-over-risks-of-no-deal-brexit
- Heather Stewart, “No 10 denies making plans for second Brexit referendum,” Guardian, December 16, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/16/no-10-denies-making-plans-for-second-brexit-referendum↩
- Dan Sabbagh, “Brexit: Labour and Tories clash over call for confidence vote,” Guardian, December 18, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/17/theresa-may-intensifies-warnings-over-risks-of-no-deal-brexit↩