Prime Minister Theresa May’s ‘Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels’ was defeated yesterday by 230 votes, the biggest government defeat in UK’s history.
MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal. Some 118 Conservative MPs voted with the opposition parties against Mrs May’s deal. Immediately the result was announced, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence in the government which could trigger general election. Mrs May said she would make time for a debate on the motion today. Mr Corbyn said the confidence vote would allow the Commons to “give its verdict on the sheer incompetence of this government”. The vote will be held today at 7 pm following a debate in the Commons. MPs will be asked to vote on a motion: “That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.” This gives Mrs May less than 24 hours to fight for her job.
There is no limit to the number of times Mr Corbyn can call a no confidence vote, but it is unlikely that the leader of the opposition would start a fight he did not think he could win.
And with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) saying they will stand by their agreement with the Tories, a defeat for Mrs May is not a surefire outcome. If the government wins, the consequence is simple: Mrs May continues in office.
But, if she loses, all bets are off. The government would fall and there would be a period of 14 days in which a new government can be formed. There are no rigid rules of what must happen during this fortnight period. Mrs May, who has previously said she would not fight the 2022 election, could attempt to cling on and form a new administration. She is safe from a vote of no confidence from her own party for another 12 months, after the ballot against her failed late last year.
Meanwhile, the pound is enduring further volatility as the UK’s political crisis deepens following yesterday defeat for Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Sterling was trading more than 1% lower versus the dollar on the day, just below $1.27, as the clock ticked down to the so-called Meaningful Vote in the Commons.