Jeremy Corbyn is set to table a no-confidence vote in the Government as early as tomorrow if Theresa May's Brexit deal is defeated. Asked by his MPs w
Asked by his MPs when he would bring the challenge – which could lead to a general election – Labour’s leader said it was ‘coming soon’.
A party source added last night: ‘You will not have to wait a long time.’
Downing Street is braced for a vote to be held tomorrow in which MPs will be asked if they no longer have confidence in the Government.
If the motion passes – and a new government with the support of a majority of MPs cannot be formed within a fortnight – Parliament will be dissolved and an early election called.
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured in the Commons today) is hoping to seize on the chaos if the PM’s deal is voted down to table a no confidence motion and try to topple Mrs May
However, Mr Corbyn is unlikely to succeed as the Democratic Unionist Party and hardline Tory Eurosceptics have pledged they would not side with Labour.
Mr Corbyn is believed to have held off on challenging the Government amid fears that failure to trigger a general election could lead to a second referendum.
Under Labour’s Brexit plans, decided at its conference in September, the party’s policy is to seek a general election first. If the party cannot secure one, Labour has promised to look at all options – including another referendum. Polling suggests that a large majority of Labour members want Mr Corbyn to actively back a so-called People’s Vote – but this would prompt a backlash from his pro-Brexit voters in the party’s Northern heartlands.
Mr Corbyn last night accused the Prime Minister of trying to ‘blackmail’ Labour MPs into backing her Withdrawal Agreement by threatening chaos if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. He said she had failed to persuade his MPs, declaring: ‘The Labour Party will not be held to ransom.’
Later, addressing the Parliamentary Labour Party on the eve of today’s crucial vote, Mr Corbyn predicted that Mrs May’s deal would be defeated – and said the country should have a general election. ‘The Tory Party’s botched deal will be rejected by Parliament,’ he said. ‘We will then need an election to have the chance to vote for a government that can bring our people together and address the deep-seated issues facing our country.’
Aides said Labour expected a no-confidence motion to be treated as a top priority for debating time in the Commons. They said the timing was a matter for Mr Corbyn.
Theresa May (pictured in the Commons today) has made last-ditch efforts to persuade Conservative rebels to back her but MPs are expected to vote her deal down
A source stressed that a second referendum is only one of a number of options on the table for Labour, alongside seeking a different Brexit deal in line with the party’s own priorities.
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell yesterday backed a plot by Tory Remainers to seize control of the Brexit process from ministers if Mrs May’s deal is voted down.
The plan would see power handed to the cross-party liaison committee, which is dominated by pro-Remain MPs. They would be given three weeks to produce an alternative plan to be put to Parliament for approval.
Mr McDonnell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Far from Parliament being at its worst as some people have accused it, I actually think this is Parliament at its best. It’s forcing the Government to actually not take Parliament for granted any more. It’s redressing some of the imbalance between the executive and Parliament that has built up over decades.’
Former Tory ministers at the heart of the coup pressed ahead with their plan last night, despite warnings it would damage democracy.
But Nick Boles, Nicky Morgan and Sir Oliver Letwin suffered a major setback when their plan was rejected by the liaison committee’s leader. Sarah Wollaston, the group’s Tory chairman, said the plot was ‘news to me’ – and suggested she would rather see a second referendum than broker another Brexit deal herself.