Labour abstention on Deal stage 1 could be route to win no-confidence vote

The ‘roadmap’ outlined below is not advocated. However, it indicates the kind of mental agility and manoeuverability that is likely to be needed to outflank the Tories for the sake of the country.

As MPs prepare to return to Westminster to debate and vote on Theresa May’s dismal Brexit ‘deal’ with the EU, another of the strange facets of the hung Parliament might reveal itself.

Labour is committed to voting down the Withdrawal Agreement and to defeating the government in a no-confidence motion, in order to force an early general election to relieve the country of the suffering inflicted by the Tories at the earliest possible opportunity.

But it might be necessary for Labour’s leadership to delay the first part in order to bring about the second, because of the way in which the specific sequence of events involved in the passage or defeat of the deal combined with the political realities among the parties.

The key to Labour’s tactics over the coming two weeks or so will be the DUP. Arlene Foster’s party has said that it will back the Tories in a confidence vote – unless May’s deal, with the Northern Irish ‘backstop’ still intact – passes the first stage.

To take effect, May’s deal must first pass the ‘meaningful vote’ in the Commons – stage 1 – and then an Act of Parliament must be passed to bring it into force.

Labour could not support May’s deal – but an abstention on stage 1 would bring things to the point where the DUP would be faced with a choice between bringing down the government or living with a backstop that would put it on a probably permanently-different basis to the rest of the UK.

And Foster and co – who would additionally respect such a show of strong nerve – have already indicated they would only be one option they could consider.

This could see a no-confidence vote in play, probably on Jan 22 – opening the door to a general election by 21 March and the opportunity for a Corbyn government to seek an extension to Article 50 when the EU commission meets that week.

This would almost certainly be granted to a new government, especially when Corbyn and his colleagues have long been establishing good relations with key EU players – and in accordance with Labour policy, all options would be on the table.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

This would, of course, be a high-stakes – and stunningly audacious – move by Corbyn and his team – but it probably represents the most realistic chance for the UK to remove the Tories and achieve a ‘Labour Brexit‘ that would avoid the excesses the Tories are hoping for.

And for all its variables, it is a far more concrete chance than the so-called “people’s vote” that centrists and the liberal-Establishment media are still desperately pushing.

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  1. I am not sure about this cunning plan. Tactically I don’t see how it would somehow lead to the successful vote of no confidence which Skwarkie optimistically envisages. The DUP could vote No to the meaningful vote (but be outvoted), defeat the Bill and still support the government in a vote of confidence. That would more likely culminate in the “men in grey suits” coming for Mrs May than in a general election.

    Moreover what about the Labour Party’s image as a better party since the bad old days of New Labour neoliberalism? A good Labour Party should vote against bad things. The UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement is a MASSIVE attack on British democracy, not least in creating the appalling Joint Committee which prevails over Parliament as well as retaining all the neoliberal EU rubbish. To abstain would be very unprincipled, and would be seen as such. I am not surprised therefore that Skwarkie adds the rider “the roadmap below is not advocated”.


  2. Hmm well abstaining on the motion still allows voting against the Bill if the tactic doesn’t work. But if it brings the DUP onside for the no confidence vote then it would be worth doing. The important thing is for the party to act in ways which further the interests of the working class, as opposed to ‘the country’: this is likely to do so by increasing the opportunity of a labour government while maintaining the option of voting against the Bill.

  3. I personally think that this will be unadvisable. The MPs work for their constituents and if the withdrawal agreement is unacceptable then they should vote against it. If they abstain then the voters would see this as a cowards move and it would damage the future reputation of the Labour party.

    Whilst the ultimate goal is for a return of a Labour government we must not slump to the depths of the Tory and DUP parties. The Tory party is standing in the way of democracy and has been doing for its whole term since the last election as it has bribed the DUP to vote alongside it. The DUP has not been voting for the best interests of its constituents and is failing them just to say in power which ultimately means that suffering is being prolonged by bad Tory policies.

    This Tory government has a tactic of abstaining on labour proposals if they have think they may not win. We must not do as they do.

    When the withdrawal agreement is defeated the power of the Tory party will be diminished further and the reputation of the Tory party damaged.

    The next election must be won by Labour and this action may result in yet another hung parliament.

  4. It is looking like the Labour Party is at risk of being too clever for their own good.

  5. Three letter that are the problem with this scenario : D-U-P.

    They won’t give up their exaggerated position easily, and are not noted for principled consistency.

    But if there were to be a GE, the difficult decisions only then begin in terms of shaping a majority from electorate that has begun to shift noticeably towards ‘Remain’, although still critically polarised. (Let alone Labour members’ strong predilections in this direction)

  6. The key to winning the next election is getting people out to vote who do not turn out because they feel that all the party’s are the same and that their vote will not make a difference. This way of thinking has to be changed.

    It would appear that the Tory party is preparing for an general election anyway.

    Universal credit roleout slowed down and claims that changes may be made. The Tory MPs do make these announcements/claims as and when it suits them.

    The proposed 10 plan for NHS currently being hailed by PM. This is an issue close to my heart and I am not going to go into this issue further until I have read it all and know what all the failings in this plan are. I will say that it does not address the health services staffing shortages.

  7. Labour will do the right thing for the country. JC is a sophisticated parliamentary strategist however when you have 650 rats in a sack,sorry I mean MPs, when you open the sack, you just can’t predict which way they will jump.

  8. Except for one thing! May would still have 3 or 4 weeks after the vote of no confidence to manipulate the next phase which could involve a no deal.

  9. George Atkinson, I just hope for the sake of all of us that these tactics don’t bite us in the nose. It is too much cloak and daggers, too much alike the way tories and dup would act.

    1. I think that’s another aspect. The public in general is pretty well bypassed by Baldrick-type cunning plots.

      Apart from my avowed support for ‘Remain’ and the similar view of the majority of members, I have always felt that a major flaw in Labour in terms of tactics is that essentially in electoral terms, there is little to distinguish the Party from the Tories in terms of Brexit – and that tends to contaminate the key policy areas where there are real diifferences.

      The desperate mess that is Westminster has tended to contaminate politics in general.

  10. Oh Dear, don’t play bourgeois Parliamentary games and just follow JC’s lead and stand for what left wing democratic socialists believe in.
    We need to end all this crap talk of a People’s Vote – we have already had one -and if Labour goes for this people will see Labour as part of being just part of “They are all the same.”
    I just make an appeal to those around Jeremy to increase his security – middle class liberals are angry and as someone argued the petty bourgeoise are the most dangerous class.
    We need peaceful debate and for ideas to rule.

  11. Just purely as a matter of facts the presumption this ridiculous notion is based on is flawed.

    If Labour abstain and the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is passed then there would be no point in the DUP voting for a VONC because once passed the WA is then put into force automatically on 30th March. The legislation is already passed as the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 which got Royal Assent on 26th June 2018. There won’t be any bill to vote against or change. The meaningful is only taking place (when it does) because the Act requires it. Once it has been passed there is no reversing the decision.

    Secondly even if a change of Government took place the WA is also an international treaty with the EU. Treaties are signed by the head of state not the Government. In the UK case this means the Queen. Once signed it is binding on all future administrations because the monarch remains the head of state regardless of changes of Government. It is Her Majesty’s Government and a legal international commitment by the Monarch binds all future Governments as well. Therefore once the WA was endorsed by Parliament it would be entered into as an international treaty.

    It is possible to rescind International Treaties by denunciation. This is regulated by Article 56 of the Vienna Convention, which provides that:

    1. A treaty which contains no provision regarding its termination and which does not provide for denunciation or withdrawal is not subject to denunciation or withdrawal unless:

    (a) It is established that the parties intended to admit the possibility of denunciation or withdrawal; or

    (b) A right of denunciation or withdrawal may be implied by the nature of the treaty.

    Neither of those cover the WA so in international law it would be pretty much impossible to just unilaterally rescind the WA Treaty once it has been agreed.

    So even if the DUP were willing to support a VONC (they are not by the way) it would be a pointless exercise because the WA would already have come into force and a GE and new Government could not reverse it. So why exactly would the DUP possibly think this was worth doing in any universe connected in even a slight and tangential way with reality?

  12. As a Labour member I agree with policy to vote down bad deals and oppose no deal. This is what I have been supporting Labour on and they should follow through, no games, just honesty and integrity.

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