An anti-Brexit demonstrator holds a Union flag, also known as a Union Jack, with a European Union (EU) flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London, U.K. (Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg)

Corbyn Proposes No-Confidence Motion in PM May: Brexit Update

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Theresa May faced a hostile Parliament after a disastrous summit in Brussels, where European Union leaders rejected her efforts to make her divorce deal more attractive.

Key Developments

  • Corbyn proposes no-confidence motion in Prime Minister May
  • May says Parliament to vote on Brexit deal in week beginning Jan. 14
  • May says second referendum would be a betrayal of voters

More on Corbyn’s Motion (6:15 p.m.)

After his office said first that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would propose a no-confidence motion in May -- and then said that he didn’t need to because she’d announced a date for a vote -- he has now said he’ll propose such a motion immediately.

This is a motion of no confidence in May, not in her government, so it’s not the type that could potentially trigger a general election. For that reason it has a greater chance of passing, as some Conservatives opposed to May’s Brexit strategy might vote for it.

But it’s not clear when the vote will happen -- almost certainly not this year -- or what impact it would have if passed. Some in Labour argue that May would have to resign as prime minister if she lost. Others disagree.

Corbyn to Propose Motion of No Confidence in May (6 p.m.)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he’ll propose a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May, citing her delay in giving Parliament an immediate vote on the Brexit deal.

Corbyn told Parliament his motion says: “This House has no confidence in the prime minister due to her failure to allow the House of Commons to have a meaningful vote straight away” on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

A reminder that this is a political gesture more than anything else, but it would be a very bad look for May if she were to lose such a vote. It would mean Parliament doesn’t have confidence in her. The government also isn’t obliged to allow time for this debate.

In any case it would not bring down the government. To do that and try to trigger an election, the opposition would need to table a vote of no-confidence in the government. That’s not what this is.

Last week May survived another type of confidence vote -- as leader of the Conservative Party. That was an internal party affair and only Tories voted in that ballot.

Government to Step Up No-Deal Planning (4:40 p.m.)

May said she’s already been having meetings every two weeks of the government’s emergency committee -- dubbed Cobra -- to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, and that she’ll step up the pace next month.

“There have already been fortnightly meetings taking place, that will move to a more regular rhythm in January as we continue to step up preparations for no deal,” May said.

May Under Fire From Pro-EU Tories (4:30 p.m.)

While most of the vitriol directed at the prime minister has come from the Brexiteer wing of her party, she’s also had a few hostile questions from pro-EU lawmakers.

First, former Education Secretary Justine Greening told May “it’s pointless” to criticize members of Parliament for trying to find alternative solutions, because “we are as a Parliament trying to find a solution through the political cul-de-sac and mess that we now find this country in.” She accused the premier of trying to halt debate.

Sarah Wollaston, who chairs Parliament’s Health Committee, told May that the majority in the House of Commons and in the country don’t want her Brexit deal.

And then Nicky Morgan, who chairs the Treasury Committee, told her that business wouldn’t understand why lawmakers are going on holiday for Christmas without taking a vote on the deal.

May: Brexit Talks to Continue Into January (4:25 p.m.)

The premier said talks are going on between Britain and EU officials over fresh assurances on the backstop -- and these discussions will carry on into January. That could mean members of Parliament are debating a deal in the week of Jan 7, while at the same time May’s government is trying to get that deal changed.

May Not Seeking to Extend Article 50 (4 p.m.)

May was asked if it would be wiser to seek an extension of the Brexit deadline rather than leaving with no deal on March 29 when the Article 50 process runs out of time.

“I don’t think it’s right to be seeking that extension of Article 50,” she said. “What Parliament will be faced with is a decision to exercise its responsibility to deliver the referendum result, to deliver Brexit. I continue to believe that this is a good deal.”

May’s answer -- saying in the present tense that she doesn’t think it’s “right” to delay Brexit -- is likely to prompt more questions about her intentions, as it doesn’t sound like she’s ruling it out.

Labour Threat Doesn’t Materialize (3:55 p.m.)

With May having announced a date for the vote (sort of), Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn didn’t follow through on the party’s threat to table a vote of no confidence in May.

May Says Her Deal Only Deal Possible (3:50 p.m.)

May stuck to her usual line that the deal she’s struck is the only deal possible, and that if lawmakers vote it down, they risk either a no-deal Brexit -- or no Brexit at all.

“If we let the perfect be the enemy of the good, then we risk leaving the EU with no deal,” she said. “Avoiding no deal is only possible if we can reach an agreement or if we abandon Brexit entirely. Do not imagine that if we vote this down, a different deal is going to miraculously appear.”

Parliament Vote Set for Week Starting Jan. 14 (3:40 p.m.)

May has given a rough date for the Meaningful Vote on her Brexit deal, which she postponed last week. It will come, she said, in the week on Jan. 14, following debate the previous week. Old hands in Parliament reckon a Tuesday is the best day for a contentious vote, so pencil in Jan. 15.

Earlier in her statement, she said Conservatives are too suspicious of her deal and in particular its Irish backstop clauses meant to avoid a hard border in Ireland. “‘There is no plot to keep us in the backstop,” she said.

What Kind of Confidence Vote Is This? (3:15 p.m.)

This is a political gesture more than anything else, but it would be a very bad look for May if she were to lose such a vote. It would mean Parliament doesn’t have confidence in her. The government isn’t obliged to allow time for this debate.

In any case it would not bring down the government. To do that and try to trigger an election, the opposition would need to table a vote of no-confidence in the government. That’s not what this is.

What about the one last week? That was a vote of no-confidence in May as leader of the Conservative Party. That was an internal party affair and only Tories voted in that ballot. May survived, and now can’t be challenged for a year.

Corbyn to Threaten No-Confidence Vote in May (3:05 p.m.)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will table a motion of no-confidence in May if she doesn’t set today a date to bring her Brexit deal back to Parliament for a vote, according to a person familiar with the situation

A vote of no-confidence in the prime minister -- unlike a vote of no-confidence in the government -- doesn’t trigger an election and is just a political gesture. However, it may well be easier to win than a vote of no-confidence in the government.

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