May wins Conservative support ahead of crucial no trust vote
13 December 2018
British Prime Minister Theresa May, who delayed a parliament vote on her Brexit deal, rallied support for the controversial deal through a confidence vote, ahead of a crucial no confidence vote, securing a temporary reprieve as majority of party MPs backed her in the secret vote.
Conservative MPs backed her by a majority of 83 in a secret ballot on Wednesday night, after “hard” Brexiters triggered a no-confidence vote in her leadership. MPs voted 200 for and 117 against to give Prime Minister May enough strength to face the no confidence vote.
Last night’s vote means she cannot be challenged in another party no-confidence vote for the next year. But today’s no-confidence vote is crucial as opponents of the current Brexit deal, including those in her own Conservative Party, have warned that they would seek new leadership to attempt to extract a new deal from the EU leaders.
May welcomed the party mandate and promised to garner legal and political assurances to “assuage concerns” of her parliamentary colleagues at the EU Council meeting she is attending on Thursday.
It may be noted that the large number of MPs who voted against her last night does not include the Labour Party opponents arrayed against her leadership and her Brexit deal. The real challenge to her leadership will come from the House of Commons where MPs who are not part of the government will vote in a majority against the deal.
The Labour Party, the official opposition, said the Conservatives themselves are split on Theresa May’s policies and renewed call for a new general election. In fact, Labour could sponsor a separate parliamentary motion of no confidence, if it chooses.
“After 40 years tearing itself apart over Europe, tonight’s vote shows the Tory party is finally and irrevocably split in two. It is incapable of agreeing a Brexit deal and unfit to govern,” said Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson.
May has firm support from cabinet members such as Home Secretary Sajid Javid, and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt as well as former Prime Minister David Cameron. But the right-wing European Research Group of MPs such as Jacob Rees-Mogg has openly called for a new leader. They believe a no-deal Brexit is more likely to extract concessions from EU leaders than the present deal.
Several MPs, both from the right and the left, believe that the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement agreed with the EU aren’t in the nation’s best interests. Hard Brexiteers want May to renegotiate the backstop, a policy to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, which would (under the current deal) involve Northern Ireland entering the EU customs union with no unilateral exit option for the UK if the backstop kicks in.
Some others want her to call a second referendum. With both ruling and opposition MPs opposing the deal, May could face real threat to her leadership at the no-confidence vote.