An unholy alliance of centrist Labour, Tory, LibDem and SNP figures has attempted to manoeuvre or force the Labour leadership into calling a vote of no confidence in spite of Theresa May’s cowardice yesterday in pulling today’s vote on her dismal withdrawal ‘deal’ with the EU.
LibDem leader Vince Cable called on Corbyn yesterday to table a motion and said he’d support it – handily ignoring the fact that any MP, including Cable himself, could call for such a vote.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon made a similar call this morning – again, ignoring the fact that any of her party’s MPs could do so.
Tory Anna Soubry made a meal of it during last night’s Newsnight, without any attempt by the programme’s presenter to point out that Labour front-bencher Richard Burgon had already stated that Labour intends to do so after May loses the eventual vote.
And yesterday, thirty-odd centrist Labour MPs – bolstered by a handful and peers and including a few names appearing more than once – signed a letter calling on Jeremy Corbyn to call a no-confidence vote and then to move immediately to a call for what is arrogantly termed a “people’s vote” – giving away the real centrist agenda.
As the letter – and Soubry on Newsnight – gave away, the real agenda is about getting to a new Brexit referendum as quickly as possible, dismissing the views of millions who voted to leave in 2016.
But Labour Party chair Ian Lavery exposed the cynicism of the ploy and put the record straight on both the no-confidence vote and Labour’s policy in a series of three tweets.
It would fail
A no-confidence vote tabled before a vote on Theresa May’s dire deal would be almost certain to fail. Even if Tory ‘rebels’ actually rebelled – something they have a long track record of failing to do – the DUP would be highly unlikely to vote with Labour before they see that their only hope of a deal that respects the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Irish economy is a Labour government. After May’s deal is rejected is another matter – but at the moment, even if it’s almost certainly doomed, May’s attempt to talk EU leaders into changes is likely to keep them from the ‘nuclear option’.
That Tory ‘rebels’ would again fail to do anything resembling actual rebellion was made clear last night. On Newsnight, Soubry attempted to ridicule Labour for not calling a no-confidence vote – and in the very same breath said she’d support the government. Labour’s Richard Burgon had already said why Labour was waiting, but had to repeat himself:
Labour policy is a general election
As Lavery correctly points out, the only firm commitment in the conference motion the centrists were referring to is to prioritise the fight to bring about a general election.
The motion commits Labour to keeping the option of a people’s vote ‘on the table’ – in other words, a commitment not to absolutely rule one out but certainly no commitment to campaign for one.
And even that only kicks in once all attempts to trigger a general election have failed. Here’s the exact wording:
If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.The relevant wording of Labour’s 2018 conference motion
It would be counter-productive to do it now
Labour has brought the Tory government to collapse, in part, by refusing to allow itself to be manoeuvred into a ‘choosing sides’. Jeremy Corbyn has ‘played a blinder’ by keeping the party steadfastly committed to doing the best for leavers and remainers alike, while respecting the result of the 2016 referendum.
Even the BBC, in a weak moment last year, had to admit that it was masterful politics – and abandoning that genuine ‘for the many’ stance would be a fool’s errand.
Fewer than forty centrist MPs – a feeble remnant of the original ‘chicken coup’ group and a Who’s Who of the ‘usual suspects’ – along with a few peers made an attempt to manoeuvre a leader they can’t defeat into a patently foolish misstep that would damage the party and the country. A couple of rival party leaders opportunistically joined in.
All to feed a Brexit obsession that consumes them and would do nothing to reverse the terrible impact of Tory ‘conscious cruelty’ on our most vulnerable citizens and communities.
Happily, very few people apart from the usual Establishment media amplifiers are going to fall for it – and certainly not Labour’s leadership.
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