Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has renewed the 3-line whip on his party’s MPs to vote down Theresa May’s dismal Brexit deal – the most extreme stricture a party leader can impose to ensure voting discipline.
The debate on the deal recommences on Wednesday and Corbyn has sought a ‘cast iron’ guarantee from the cowardly PM that she will not cancel the ‘meaningful vote’ again as she did before Christmas.
When the deal fails – as every commentator still expects – Labour will launch a formal vote of no confidence under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. This is the only type of no-confidence vote that the government cannot block and time must be made in the parliamentary schedule for a debate and vote.
As the party has done throughout the Brexit process since the initial vote to ratify Article 50 in accordance with the referendum result, Labour has fought the Tories’ every time they have tried to impose a disastrous deal on the country or tried to deceive us, as this video from the excellent Ealing Labour for Corbyn team clearly shows:
However, Labour has just under forty percent of MPs in the Commons and cannot carry this no-confidence vote on its own. The willingness of MPs from the SNP, Plaid and the Greens to support the vote when it matters – having played games around it before the Christmas recess – will be key.
If those parties show they are serious about changing the government and get solidly behind the motion, then the DUP will again hold the swing vote, even if no Tories rebel.
The DUP has previously indicated that it would support a vote if the deal passes the first stage – the second being an Act of Parliament – but their real intentions will only be known when their votes are cast and intense discussions will be going on behind the scenes to try to persuade Foster’s party that its best interests lie in removing the Tories from government.
The DUP’s Westminster leader said late last year that Jeremy Corbyn understands and respects their issues significantly better than Theresa May – but only time will tell whether that is enough to carry the DUP’s factions.
Corbyn is doing his part. Will those other parties do theirs for the sake of the country, or will narrower political agendas interfere?
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