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British Labour Party Moves Vote of No Confidence Against Theresa May After She Loses Brexit Deal Vote by 230 Votes But British Premier Expected To Retain Confidence of the House

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By

Peter Walker

After Theresa May’s huge defeat over her Brexit deal, parliament and the country face an uncertain next few days. On Wednesday, a no-confidence motion in the government will be debated. If the government loses there could be a general election. But even if she defeats the motion, the prime minister’s next steps are hazardous.

Why will there be a no-confidence vote?

Immediately after she lost the Brexit deal vote by 230 votes, May said that such was the “scale and importance” of the defeat that she would give time for such a motion if tabled by Labour, or even one tabled by a smaller opposition party. Jeremy Corbyn immediately confirmed Labour would do so.

What is the procedure for this?

This will be the first such debate under the 2011 Fixed-term Parliaments Act, which seeks to keep governments to five-year terms by removing the previous ability of prime ministers to call an election when they wanted.

There are two exceptions. The first, which was used to trigger the 2017 election, happens if two-thirds or more of MPs vote for an election. The other method comes if a specifically worded no-confidence motion is passed.

Section 2.4 of the act says the motion must say: “That this house has no confidence in Her Majesty’s government.” Under parliamentary convention, if the official opposition tables this, the expectation is that ministers will allow time for it promptly.

What will happen on Wednesday?

When the 2017 election was called, the debate was only 90 minutes long. However, the leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, said the entire day of Wednesday until 7pm would be used, after prime minister’s questions is over at about 12.45pm. There will then be a vote.

What happens if Labour wins?

There would not be an immediate election; instead, there would be a period of 14 calendar days in which the government can seek to regain the confidence of MPs, or else another government can be formed.

If this does not happen, then parliament will be dissolved, with the standard 25 working-day gap needed before the election is held.

The act does not state precisely what can happen in this period, and since the provision has not yet been used, it remains unclear how, if at all, this grace period could potentially be used to form a very different government, for example a coalition or a minority Labour administration.

Will Labour win?

The signs point to no. However much many Conservative MPs dislike May’s Brexit plan they are not keen on an election, and even less keen on potentially allowing a Labour government into No 10. Thus very few, if any, are likely to vote with Corbyn.

Just as crucially, May’s DUP coalition partners, who voted against the Brexit deal, immediately pledged they would back the PM in the confidence vote.
The European Research Group of strongly pro-Brexit MPs, which opposed May’s deal, also swiftly said they would back her in the no-confidence motion. So she seems safe, at least for now.

If May holds on, what will her next steps be?

She begins to dance around some form of plan B. May said she would immediately start talks with both Tories and people in other parties “in a constructive spirit” to seek a deal that could win the support of the Commons. Any ideas must be “genuinely negotiable and have sufficient support in this house”, she said, in a warning to MPs hoping to push a personal or unrealistic Brexit vision.

May must present a “motion in neutral terms” to the Commons by Monday. This could be amended, meaning in theory backbenchers with their own ideas could try to seize control of the process. Much will depend on whether the Speaker, John Bercow, allows such interventions.


Courtesy:The Guardian

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