May Survives No Confidence Vote Over Brexit Woes

UK News Roundup 14/12/2018

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Two-thirds of Tory MPs Back May After Leadership Challenge

Wednesday night saw the first formal challenge to Theresa May’s leadership of the Conservative Party, and of the Cabinet, as the party held a vote of confidence. May needed a majority of 159 members pledging support to carry on, and succeeded in gaining 200. The Prime Minister is now protected from another vote of confidence for a minimum of a year.

However, the 117 votes against her is being seen as a big blow to May’s legitimacy, especially as her party still does not hold a strong majority in Parliament. As a last-minute appeal to her members, May promised she will step down as leader before the next general election. She will stay on to “deliver Brexit,” whilst knowing that she would not receive the necessary support to lead a successful election.

The May loyalists are seeing the result as an almighty victory that embarrasses the “extremist” Tory backbenchers hellbent on a “hard” Brexit. These Brexiteers do not share that opinion. They feel it is but further embarrassment for the PM. The leader of the Euroskeptic European Research Group Jacob Rees-Mogg called for her to resign.

Parliamentary Vote On Withdrawal Bill Delayed Until January

The no-confidence vote was in part triggered by Theresa May’s last-minute postponement of the vote on the withdrawal bill. After a long weekend of attempting to persuade MPs to back her deal, which to remind you again is the worst deal ever, she was forced to admit that the numbers simply did not add up. She will now go back to Brussels to speak to EU leaders in hope of “gaining reassurances” over the Backstop issue – a plan which means Northern Ireland will be acting in accordance with the European Customs Unions in order to avoid a “hard border” with the Republic of Ireland.

This is largely seen as much ado about nothing on all sides, as key figures at the EU have repeatedly said that there is no improvement to be done on the withdrawal deal currently offered. What’s more, some “reassurance” on the Backstop will not be enough to satisfy dissenters as there are more important concerns with the deal surrounding immigration, customs and the European Court of Justice.

The one undeniable quality of this Prime Minister is her perseverance. Like the Energizer Bunny, she just keeps going and going, showing remarkable strength and humor regardless of how many different groups of people dislike her. Yet this might be the worst possible quality one wants from a Prime Minister in this exact moment. One would hope in the face of clear dissent, and no mandate, a leader would respectfully step down and let somebody else finish the job. Yet we have someone obstinately carrying on with no clear solution in sight.

If No Concessions Are Made, It Is Truly Over.

May has an impossible job: go back to an institution that has declared they are not budging, and attempt to get them to budge. If the EU does not grant more than a cursory concession towards the Irish backstop issue, the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland) will withdraw its confidence and supply agreement, the only thing currently keeping May’s majority in Parliament. If that happens, a general election will likely be triggered, and May will have to step down.

Given that, it seems that Theresa May is a dead-woman-walking. Which makes you wonder, considering how much her government relies on Northern Irish support, why May was so lax about conceding so much to the EU in her withdrawal agreement talks. Every minute of this Brexit process has been excruciating. You have to wonder whether she’s doing it on purpose.

You can read more from James Smith on Think Liberty here.

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