Monday, December 10 looked like a crisis point for the Conservative government, with both the Liberal Democrats and, apparently, the Scottish National Party appealing to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to call a vote of “no confidence” in the administration.
But appearances can be deceptive.
The Liberal Democrats joined 30 MPs, 15 peers and five MEPs from Mr Corbyn’s own Labour Party to demand an immediate vote after Theresa May shelved her “meaningful vote” on the weak Brexit agreement she has negotiated – if that’s the word for it – with the European Union.
But look at the names of the Labour MPs supporting the move: Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Owen Smith – all enemies of Mr Corbyn within the party who may be hoping it will fail so they can attack him for poor judgement.
But spokespeople from the party leadership have said it is wiser to wait until after Mrs May has returned from her current – desperate – attempt to secure more concessions from the EU27.
They said a motion of “no confidence” would be put down when it is most likely to be successful – and this would be when Mrs May returns, having failed to renegotiate her deal and with only vague reassurances from EU leaders.
This would fail to win the backing of enough MPs and they would then by likely to support a “no confidence” vote. If this motion passes, parties have 14 days to try to form a new government. That would give Labour a chance to team up with smaller parties.
If no combination can win half of MPs’ backing within 14 days, a general election is triggered automatically.
Twitter commenters were busy explaining this as Mrs May was being lambasted in the Commons for her latest about-turn on Monday:
People asking why @UKLabour not supporting an immediate no-confidence in govt. Watching the Tories rally around May this aft you can see why. We’d lose and she’d be emboldened. You get one shot at this.
— Clive Lewis (@labourlewis) December 10, 2018
This is not the time for a no confidence vote…. it won’t pass, the DUP will most likely back May.
Wait until May comes back with her reheated shit deal and that fails, which it will.
Realistically, you only have one shot at it… timing is everything.
— EL4C (@EL4JC) December 10, 2018
When Theresa May fails to come back with a better deal, the DUP will surely then rule out supporting the Tories in a confidence vote.
Those demanding a no confidence motion now are doing so for one reason – to try and exclude a General Election to get a Second Referendum.
— Evolve Politics (@evolvepolitics) December 10, 2018
The PM has today tried to keep her deal alive for a few more days or weeks.
But it's clear that she's lost all credibility – and that weakens her even further as a negotiator.
She can only kick the can down the road for so long. She needs to face facts: her deal is dead. pic.twitter.com/746GvTgpnl
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) December 10, 2018
It is now just a matter of time before Mrs May is removed and Mr Corbyn becomes prime minister.
All he has to do is hold his nerve and ignore those who would push him into hasty mistakes.
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