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What Does Corbyn's Motion of No Confidence Mean?

What Does Corbyn’s Motion of No Confidence Mean?

This evening Jeremy Corbyn tabled a Motion of No Confidence in the Prime Minister, Theresa May. The move isn’t completely surprising, we have been talking about this possibility in our videos for a few weeks now, but the sudden announcement took some by surprise.

Corbyn’s motion is in response to May delaying the vote on her Brexit Deal until mid-January 2019. This delay means that if MP’s vote down the deal, there won’t be much time left to come up with an alternative. It’s because of this that the Labour party tabled the motion, with Corbyn saying that it’s “unacceptable that we should be waiting almost a month before we have a meaningful vote”. As such, the motion asks MPs to declare that they have “no confidence in the prime minister due to her failure to allow the House of Commons to have a meaningful vote straight away”.

The motion is aimed specifically at the Prime Minister, not the government as a whole. Corbyn expanded on this remarking that he tabled the motion as it was “the only way I can think of ensuring a vote takes place this week”.


When Will The Vote Take Place?

It’s not clear at this time when MPs will vote on the motion, and the government isn’t obliged to schedule the vote before the Christmas recess. That’s because Corbyn tabled an early day motion, which means the government isn’t required to clear time in its schedule for the vote. If they decided not to schedule the vote, it wouldn’t take place until the next Opposition Day, which is after the recess. In response to this Corbyn said that if the government don’t schedule the vote in the coming days, it would demonstrate that May was unable to command the confidence of the house.

Recent remarks from Number 10 suggest that they won’t allow for the vote to take place in the coming days.

Will May Lose the Vote?

It’s early to call but likely that May will win the vote of no confidence. Considering over a third of her own party voted against her last week, that might be surprising, but hear me out.

Normally the biggest sources of friction within May’s government are the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). These two groups will likely vote against May’s deal, but it looks like they will support her on this occasion.

ERG members will probably vote to support the Prime Minister, with senior member Steve Baker saying “Eurosceptic Conservatives are clear that we accept the democratic decision of our party to have confidence in Theresa May as PM. We will vote against Labour in any confidence motion.”

The DUP also voiced their support this evening, with Nigel Dodds the DUP Westminister leader saying DUP MPs would not vote in favour of “the antics of the Labour party”.

It’s not often that May can actually pull her own party together, but it looks like on this occasion she might be able to do exactly that.


What Happens If She Loses?

As we mentioned earlier, the motion is specifically targetting the Prime Minister, not the whole government. This might seem like a technicality, but it is an important distinction to make. It’s because of this that it’s only May’s job which is on the line, not the government as a whole.

Essentially, if May loses the vote she could be ousted as Prime Minister, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a general election.

In fact, upon losing the vote even May wouldn’t officially lose her position as PM. However, the loss would effectively force her to resign. It’s only her own party have the power to force her out and when given that choice last week decided they didn’t want her to go. Although the House of Commons can’t force her out. if she lost the support of the house her position would become untenable. Politically it would seem that she had lost control of the house and she would likely be forced to step down as a result.

As we said Labour has only filed a motion of no confidence in Theresa May, but they could still file a motion against the entire government. It’s this, completely different type of motion, which could directly lead to a general election being called.


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