The vote of No Confidence in the Prime Minister as leader of the Conservative Party will take place this evening (Wednesday 12 December). Graham Brady (above), Chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, announced this morning that he had received the necessary 48 letters to trigger the vote.
It is likely that the PM will win. The PMs opponents within the party have struggled to reach the magic number of 48 letters in recent weeks. In other circumstances that would wound a sitting leader, damaging them enough to precipitate defeat. In these unusual times the anti May caucus, needs to find another 100 plus MPs that will vote against May at 6pm tonight. That would mean no new leader before the deadline for a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal of 21 January. The result of voting the PM out would almost certainly lead to a no deal Brexit. Most Tory MPs don’t want that.
If May wins she’s safe from another vote for 12 months by which time she will have probably have left office of her own accord. In that event, the attempt to unseat the PM by hard line Brexiteers, will have backfired.
This is the bizarre moment when Prime Minister Theresa May was accused of a “premature parliamentary ejaculation” and immediately decried that she was incapable of such a thing. The accusation and denial ‘came’ during questions following the withdrawal on the meaningful vote on May’s Brexit proposal.
We hear constantly from politicians that a people’s vote would be undemocratic. Dwell on that for a moment.
Let’s say we swallow the argument that the people have already spoken and little has changed since British public advised politicians that they wanted to leave the EU. May’s mantra ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is a broadly held view. So on the one hand politicians tell us that they must deliver Brexit and yet plan to vote against it. The May deal is the front runner in not gaining the support of the majority of MPs, but a hard Brexit would also be voted down. A Norway deal would be voted down. Canada plus plus plus would be voted down. So despite politicians telling us they must and will deliver Brexit, it seems there is no deal that they will support. So that leaves ‘no deal’.
However it’s likely that MP’s will decree that ‘no deal’ will be vetoed. So there isn’t any deal we can agree on, we won’t be allowed to leave without a deal and we won’t be given the choice to remain because asking the people would be undemocratic.
So as it stands, there’s no deal, there’s no ‘no deal’ and there’s no option to even consider whether we wish to remain.
The day after PM Theresa May forced her draft Brexit deal through the cabinet her proposal and possibly her premiership has unravelled. A series of resignations from government and letters to Graham Brady the chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee will trigger a no-confidence motion that will take place in days possibly as soon as tomorrow.
The only way for May to avoid the vote, which she might well win, would be to resign. All Conservative MPs can vote and if May wins, she remains as PM and cannot be challenged by her party for 12 months. Lose and she must resign and is not eligible to stand in the leadership election that will follow.
May’s replacement will become prime minister without a general election. The election is by secret ballot and the candidate with the fewest votes is removed. Dependent on the number there are several votes (on Tuesdays and Thursdays) until only there are just two candidates who face each other in a postal ballot of the whole Conservative Party membership. The whole process could take several weeks.
Given that the Tories have no majority the combined opposition parties could pass a vote of No Confidence in the government and trigger a general election.
Few doubt that Boris Johnson’s resignation yesterday was less to do with Brexit and more to do with his continuing aspirations to be Prime Minister. Therein lies his problem.
Johnson has form for putting ambition ahead of service, a lot of form. Johnson biographer Andrew Gimson describes him as “staggeringly inconsiderate of others” when focusing upon his own interests. His popularity with a significant sector of the public, may well have tipped the balance in the Brexit referendum. Though despite his vigorous campaigning it’s not entirely clear he believed what he was saying. In February 2016, it was reported that Boris had written two Daily Telegraph columns – one in favour of Brexit, the other for Remain – before deciding which would fill his weekly slot. His decision to back Leave may well have been based on the belief that he would be narrowly on the losing side. He could then have fallen in line as a gallant loser, perfectly placed to succeed Cameron.
For months he has ignored the notion of collective cabinet responsibility to push himself onto the front pages. He seems to be sanguine about the Brexit shambles so long as it helps brand Boris. Yesterday, having agreed to May’s Brexit proposal on Friday, he did a 180 degree turn and resigned. He even produced a publicity shot, signing his resignation letter. History shows that those who show their hand so clearly and so often, rarely reach the highest office.
The resignation couldn’t have been more stage-managed and a leadership bid yesterday seemed inevitable. A few weeks ago when business leaders questioned the government’s indecision over Brexit, Boris allegedly said: “fuck business”. It seems now that more and more people are saying : “fuck Boris”.
You don’t need a crystal ball to foresee the result of today’s cabinet summit at Chequers. There has never been any doubt, we are on coure for no deal and that means a hard Brexit with hard borders all round.
Either A) there’s a compromise that will work and all the brilliant minds in government have spent two years looking but can’t find it or B) there’s no compromise that will work. It’s B) if you’re wondering.
The problem is twofold. Even if the cabinet agrees to a fudge today it won’t hold.
The second hurdle is even bigger.
Let’s say just for argument’s sake, two years after the referendum, we agree a plan. It normally takes a minimum of five years to agree and implement a trade deal and in some cases it can take more than twenty. That’s if both sides want a trade deal. The EU doesn’t want one because it would likely lead to the breakup of the EU. So we have one year but we need between five and twenty from the date at which the EU decides it wants a deal, which is likely to be never. You do the maths.
By 2024 we might have struck some deals outside of the EU but we won’t be in a customs union or a single market. It’s not uncertainty that’s the problem it’s that the reality is so shocking it’s difficult to accept.
Paul Manafort, who is investigating Russian interference in the United States presidential election yesterday accused Trump’s former campaign chairman, of secretly paying former European officials to lobby for the pro-Russian Ukraine government.
In 2012 and 2013 Paul Manafort and his colleague Rick Gates used offshore accounts to pay more than two million Euros to the group of former politicians the indictment says. The plan was to “assemble a small group of high-level European highly influential champions and politically credible friends who can act informally and without any visible relationship with the Government of Ukraine.”
In March 2014 in a TV debate with then Deputy PM Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage said that the European Union had “blood on its hands” over the armed coup that ousted pro-Russia Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich the previous month. Just a few days later, he named Putin as the leader he most admired and said EU leaders were “weak and vain”, adding “If you poke the Russian bear with a stick he will respond.”
During that time Nigel Farage also made multiple appearances on Russia Today, the state sponsored news channel.
Last summer it was reported that Farage was as a “person of interest” in the FBI investigation into alleged links between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
In 2012-13 two million Euros is secretly paid to former European politicians to speak in favour of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. A few months later Nigel Farage does exactly that. At the very least that merits an investigation into the former UKIP leader’s tax affairs.
[Picture by Michael Vadon]