Dead. The word that best describes Theresa May’s Brexit deal. She has walked the tightrope of Brexit for longer than many expected but this deal is one step too far. Her cynical attempts to delay the vote are not only undemocratic but immoral. May hoped to have the vote on her deal at the 11th hour with a No Deal bearing down on us if it was rejected. That was the only way she could pass it, that was the only way she could keep her job.
However, this plan hasn’t gone well with her own benches but while the Tories are in disarray but we should keep the champagne on ice if May falls.
Any figure who could replace May will be a more dangerous animal, both politically and economically. A Brexiteer would win a leadership challenge, whether this would be Raab or Javid or anyone else, it will a Brexiteer. The Conservative membership chooses between the last 2 candidates and Conservative party members are ardent Brexit supporters. Theresa May found that out on LBC when one of her own councillors rang up to tell her to resign in the last flurry of resignations.
May’s Brexit deal makes her vulnerable. She has shown she will not change course and while she may attempt to use the prospect of a No Deal to scare MPs into voting for her deal it still might not pass. That is her weakness that can bring about a general election, a new Tory leader will not have this weakness. If the Tories replace May the next general election will be in 2022.
The left should want May to survive.
Luckily she will. It has taken the Brexit rebels 3 attempts to round up 48 votes to trigger a vote of no confidence. The Brexiteers need 3x more votes (159) just to trigger a leadership contest. May should survive especially with the support of Sajid Javid and Michael Gove.
The rejection of this deal though throws up huge constitutional issues. With time running out it might not be possible to send May back for another deal. Even if we can, what Brexit deal passes Parliament?
Credit: Election Maps UK
I personally think Labour’s Brexit plan cannot pass the house in its current form with backing from the Tory frontbench. Even with a Labour win in a general election, it would not be certain to do so especially if any government had SNP support.
Starmer and Corbyn have played a masterclass in politics over Brexit. They found the narrow path to a softer Brexit than the government without needing the EEA. That strategy has brought us here and when May’s deal does not pass Parliament they must act quickly to trigger a general election, their position on Brexit in their manifesto might decide the election but that is a question for after any succesful vote of no confidence, and failing that a Referendum on Brexit. Those counselling against the latter should remember Labour campaigned for Remain, the party believes its the better option, and certainly is a better option than the Tory Brexit on offer.
For any of thee scenarios to occur, May must survive. If a new Tory leader emerges we will be plunged into a Hard Brexit and 4 more years of Tory rule.