The leader of Britain’s main opposition party has submitted a motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May — a largely symbolic move of censure which looks doomed to failure as the only two possible groups who could have backed it have announced they will support May.
Jeremy Corbyn called for the vote after May announced that parliament would not vote on Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union until the week of January 14, more than a month after it was originally scheduled.
Defeat would increase pressure on the prime minister. But unlike a no-confidence motion in the government, a vote on May as an individual has no power to topple the government and force an election.
The Twitter account for the Labour Whips, who maintain party discipline, warned that the prime minister would be showing weakness if she did not allow the motion to be debated:
According to local media, the prime minister will allow time for the motion to be debated and voted on Tuesday:
However, Laura Kuennsberg, the BBC’s political editor, said it appeared that the government was daring the Labour party to introduce a full vote of no-confidence in the government, rather than just May:
One of two possible ways that the motion could have been passed would have been for some of May’s obstreperous backbenchers to have supported it, namely the ‘no-deal’ Leave-backing European Research Group (ERG), of which Jacob Rees-Mogg is chairman.
Speaking on Monday, the embattled British leader said debate on her deal would begin after the Christmas break on January 7 with the vote following in the week after. In response, Corbyn condemned her leadership and her delay in putting a promised vote before parliament.
“This last week has embodied the failure, chaos and indecision at the heart of this government’s shambolic handling of Brexit,” Corbyn said in response to May’s announcement.
“Today they have been dragged kicking and screaming to announce a date to re-start the debate.
“But, Speaker, it is disgraceful that a month has been wasted since we were due to vote on 11 December and there can be no further attempts to dodge accountability to parliament.”
May withdrew a previous vote on her Brexit deal last week, leading to a vote of no confidence within her own party. She survived the Wednesday vote 200-117.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the prime minister’s sharpest critics in the Conservative party, said the leadership challenge means that he would support May in any confidence vote in the House of Commons.
MP and former Corbyn leadership challenger Owen Smith said he would prefer a motion of no confidence in the Government as a whole, not just the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister mounted a defence of the deal she has negotiated, saying those who thought another deal was possible were dealing in “fiction”. She also dismissed suggestions of a second referendum on the topic.