On Monday, Theresa May ran from Jeremy Corbyn’s no-confidence motion – first literally and then by refusing to allow parliamentary time for it.
At the same time, leaders of other parties attempted to hijack it by turning it into a full motion against the government in a transparent attempt to force Corbyn to contest an unwinnable motion so they can move to what they think is the main course – pushing for another referendum, which they arrogantly call a “people’s vote”, as if people didn’t vote the first time.
To underpin these blatant tactics, the Establishment media and centrist politicians have attempted to create an impression that a no-confidence motion is a ‘once and done’ affair – that Corbyn only has one shot at it and his determination to wait until after the vote on May’s dismal excuse for a Brexit deal is a sign of weakness, prevarication or selfish politics.
But this is simply untrue. Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA), there is no limit to how many times the Opposition can table a motion of no confidence in the government.
Nor is there any convention or precedent that an Opposition can only do so once.
In fact, contrary to the image painted by the Establishment that she was some irresistible political force in her time, Margaret Thatcher contested no fewer than six confidence motions against the Labour government as Opposition leader in just three years, before she eventually won one:
And she only won the sixth because PM Jim Callaghan refused to allow a dying MP to attend the Commons to vote. Callaghan’s government lost by a single vote – 311 to 310 – and resigned.
Corbyn can bring as many such motions under the FTPA as he wishes. He is not hiding from a vote – he is rightly timing it for the optimal chance of victory at the first attempt.
The UK doesn’t have three years for no-confidence motions before Britain is condemned to a dire Tory Brexit. The millions of people suffering poverty and despair under Tory policies cannot bear three more years of attempts.
By timing his move for the maximum chances of success the first time, Corbyn is doing his duty to the country, rather than taking the easy route.
Those trying to force his hand prematurely – and May running scared – are playing politics at the expense of the nation for the sake of their own careers and agendas.
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