Government can no longer command a majority in the House of Commons.
Two votes in 24 hours have demonstrated that the government has lost control of the House of Commons in the critical run up to a meaningful vote on the only deal on the table for leaving the European Union. Yesterday the Commons voted by 303 to 296 to limit the government’s tax administration powers in the event of no deal. Today they voted to require the PM to come back with a new deal within three days if the current deal is voted down.
In years gone by this would have meant the collapse of the government and a general election. Since the introduction of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act however the lame duck government can limp on, incapable of passing important legislation, until a formal motion of no confidence is passed.
The Labour Party has indicated that they plan to table such a vote if, as is likely, the Government loses the meaningful vote on May’s Brexit deal.
What can we probably expect?
- May will almost certainly lose the vote. She could even put her own neck on the block threatening to resign is she loses.
- May or her deputy, in the event she goes, will have no chance at all of getting the EU agree to a different deal within three days
- With 70 days before Britain is set to leave the EU there will be no deal and no prospect of one.
- Parliament may spend some of that time discussing alternatives before concluding that there is no majority for any plan.
- There are then just three alternatives:
- We leave without a deal on March 29.
- There’s a general election – this may be enough to persuade the 27 EU countries to delay Article 50 but no guarantee that they we will – so no deal exit on March 29
- There’s a 2nd referendum. This may be enough to get Article 50 extended but no guaranteed that parliament will allow it.
What can we definitely expect?
Having analysed the public declarations of Conservative MPs this morning we’re predicting that Theresa May will win the vote of no confidence and probably by a big margin.
Of the 115 we’ve found who have gone public, 109 are supporting their party leader and just six have indicated they will vote against her. This is fewer than half the total number of Tory MPs but it is a big sample. Amongst the 109 there may me some who voice support but will secretly cast a vote of no confidence. There’s also an argument that says you are more likely to go public with a declaration of support than disloyalty. Both these factors would have to loom large to have an impact on the result.
It may not be a landslide but it will be a sizeable victory and no further leadership challenge will be permitted for 12 months. It will put May in a far stronger position than she was at the start of the week.
You can see a full list of Tory MPs here with an indication of how they will vote tonight.
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.
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.
George Osborne is quitting as an MP.
In a letter to Conservatives in his Tatton constituency, he said: “I am stepping down from the House of Commons – for now. But I will remain active in the debate about our country’s future and on the issues I care about, like the success of the Northern Powerhouse.
“At the age of 45, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life just being an ex-Chancellor. I want new challenges. I’m very excited about the opportunity to edit the Evening Standard. I’ve met the team there, and their energy and commitment to this great newspaper are positively infectious.”
He was regarded as a likely future PM until the Brexit vote. His Tatton seat is regarded as a very safe Tory constituency.
At 11.05am today Prime Minister Theresa May announced that there will be an early UK General Election on Thursday June 8th. In a political speech which marked the start of the campaign , she criticised the other parties in the context of their stance on Brexit: “If we do not hold a general election now, their political game playing will continue” she said.
The election requires a motion in the House of Commons to be passed by a two thirds majority. That motion will be tabled tomorrow. The Labour Party alone could block the motion but May has clearly calculated that they won’t want to be accused of running scared. The current Tory lead over Labour stands at 18 points which if that was repeated in the vote would deliver a Tory landslide.
The petition calling to “Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom” passed a million signatures at 9.54am today (30 January 2017). It gained a million supporters in less than 24 hours and is the 2nd quickest ever on the UK Government and Petitions website to hit gain a million supporters after the Brexit 2nd referendum petition, which eventually gained over 4 million backers.
A debate in parliament is triggered when any petition reaches 100,000 so a debate in Westminster Hall at least, is already guaranteed. It will be much more difficult for the government to dismiss this public plea however, compared with Brexit petition. There will be calls from opposition parties for the debate to be held in the House of Commons.
Firstly there’s been no referendum on the Trump visit. More significantly the government will have to weigh up the advantages of a state visit compared to the likelihood that many of those who have put their names to the petition will make a more public protest if Trump sets foot on British soil. The invitation was intended as a cornerstone of the special relationship. Given Trump’s apparent thin skin, it seems likely that a visit plagued by public protest would do demolish and deals with the US government than to shore them up.
The government is expected to confirm details of the parliamentary debate by tomorrow.