Theresa May logically won the Conservatives’ no-confidence vote and she might now just decide to call a new referendum to avert a Prime Minister Corbyn.
Theresa May logically won the Conservatives’ no-confidence vote tonight by 200 votes to 117, but she gets out of it quite damaged indeed.
From the tone of his interventions this lunchtime at PMQs, it is probably safe to say that Jeremy Corbyn could very well table another no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister, but in the House of Commons this time, as soon as tomorrow or next week, before the House of Commons Christmas recess.
Humiliated and hurt, but still alive enough for yet another fight, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s ERG could now join the DUP and abstain in such a vote, making the government fall.
Why would the extended-ERG (117 MPs against May) abstain?
For fear that Theresa May decides to go on with her Brexit deal. For the ERG losing tonight against Theresa May means they could actually lose their hard Brexit maybe forever. The only way they could still stop the Prime Minister then (since they wouldn't be able to challenge her for 12 months) would be to let Corbyn win his vote.
Humilation. Anger. Pride. Watch a very bitter Jacob Rees-Mogg not respecting “the will of the majority” and certainly not “getting over it”, after having repeatedly told the Remainers to swallow their defeat at the 2016 referendum:
Why would the DUP abstain?
The DUP already repeatedly stated they will withdraw support to her Government if she insists with her Brexit deal. Having survived tonight’s vote, she might return her Brexit deal (which they hate because of the backstop) to the House of Commons.
Both ERG and DUP MPs would rather see Theresa May’s government fall, the Conservatives choose a new leader who would take them to a new General Election on a hard Brexit line than see their hard Brexit gone forever.
This is, therefore, exactly when Jeremy Corbyn would find his momentum to table his no-confidence vote. If both ERG and DUP indeed abstain, Corbyn can dream of a majority to win that vote and finally take down the Government.
To prevent this from happening, however, and defeat Corbyn’s attempt, Theresa May could outsmart everybody and decide to take her Brexit deal to the electorate in a new referendum (not a second referendum or a People’s Vote) with a simple question: “My Brexit or no Brexit”... effectively Brexit Deal vs Remain.
Why on earth would Theresa May change her mind about a new referendum?
In the past two years, we have seen her U-turn so many times that it looks like it has actually become Government policy.
More seriously, with the risk of Corbyn tabling a no-confidence vote against her, she would offer the supporters of a People’s Vote in Parliament (SNP, Plaid Cymru, Green and Labour MPs) what they actually wish for, and she would thus block any Corbyn’s vote.
Theresa May knows she has no majority for her Brexit deal to pass Parliament anyway and she would have nothing to worry about from the ERG (12-month free ride) or DUP (not needed to have a majority for her deal anyway), so calling a referendum would be her only choice left.
Jeremy Corbyn would be forced to choose between supporting Remain or supporting May’s deal. A big dilemma for the man who for two years has done everything he could not to have to choose between supporting a People’s Vote and going ahead with Brexit.
What would happen next?
Winning the referendum would mean that Theresa May could implement the deal she has negotiated for two years and could give her the legitimacy to remain as Prime Minister maybe beyond the 2022 General Election if she wishes to, despite her signalling to Conservative MPs that she would step down before that date. Corbyn would be on the ropes. A Labour Leadership challenge would almost certainly ensue.
Losing the referendum, in the contrary, would mean calls for Theresa May to resign and a General Election with the risk of a Corbyn premiership.
A risky strategy.
It is a risk she could be prepared to take. Unbolded by a win tonight, and after all the previous attempts to get rid of her by her side, she might have faith in her good luck and so take the risk to call a referendum.
Theresa May might also think that she could be very successful at presenting her deal to people in a referendum campaign and convince both Leave and Remain voters that, after all, her deal means Brexit.🔷
Liked this story? Here’s what you can do next:
(This is an original piece, first published by the author in PoliticsMeansPolitics.com)