This evening (16th January 2019) Theresa May faced the House of Commons again. This time not fighting for her deal, but for her job. That’s because last night Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence, essentially asking MPs if they still had confidence in the government’s ability to operate.
May will have been no doubt relieved when the vote came in her favour with a majority of MPs voting to support the government and to reject the motion of no confidence. Despite the failure of yesterday’s vote Conservative and DUP MPs came together to vote down the motion. This is because as much as some Conservatives might dislike May’s plans or even her leadership, they ultimately want to support their party. They believe that the Conservatives are the best party to handle Brexit and take the country forward. As much as they might dislike May and her plans, supporting her is the only way they can guarantee the party retaining power.
This result is finally some good news for the Prime Minister, but she’s far from out of the woods.
What Happens Now?
As we discussed in our video on the topic, May’s government has five paths it could take:
- The government could try and renegotiate the deal
- They could hold a second referendum and ask the public to vote again
- There could be a general election
- The government could choose to give up on Brexit and just leave the UK in the EU
- Or if nothing happens and no deal is reached the UK will leave without any deal
May needs to act fast though. On Monday she has to present her plan B to the House of Commons, not leaving her long to forge a backup plan. The EU has indicated that Brexit is now in the hands of the UK, saying that London needs to say how things go forward from here. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a press conference “It’s now up to the UK tell us what happens next. We still have time to negotiate but we’re first going to wait to hear from the British Prime Minister”. The EU wants to let the dust settle as they believe it’s still possible that the UK will agree to a soft Brexit, or even end the whole thing via a second referendum
May’s path isn’t unobstructed as it’s possible this vote of no confidence won’t be the last. The opposition has the right to trigger as many confidence votes as they wish and many suspect Labour plan on doing it again soon. Their plan is that if they time it right they can wear down the prime minister, making it harder and harder for her to justify her position to her own party.