Will Remainers eventually vote against the government in one of the many no-confidence motions Labour are threatening to bring in the next few weeks? Juliet Samuel thinks they may well do so:
But there is another avenue of pressure: votes of no confidence. If Remain-supporting Tories become convinced that Mrs May is steering the country towards a no-deal Brexit, they could decide to vote to collapse their own party’s government. This could split their party and they would risk being accused of treachery by their own supporters but, from the looks of it, there are easily enough Tories prepared to do so to make it a credible threat.
But here’s the problem with that. If the government loses a no-confidence motion then there’s going to be another election (assuming those rebels don’t decide to prop up Labour long-term, which would probably be too much even for the likes of Anna Soubry, and anyway she ruled that out pretty vehemently yesterday).
What are the chances of Anna Soubry winning her seat again at another election next month? Close to zero, I’d say. Same applies to lots of the other loony Remainers. So I’d say there’s actually very little chance of them doing this. Yesterday I said that I thought the likes of Soubry would give up their own Parliamentary careers for the EU, but I think that was a bit strong. I’m not sure they would if it came down to it tomorrow.
Anyway, they also wouldn’t do it for another reason — how could they stop Brexit if they’re not MPs? They’re finding it difficult enough as it is to stop it even though they’re in Parliament. If they’re just another ex-politician, and not even an ex-PM like Major and Blair, then they’ll be greatly reduced in power, and that’s not what they want. There’s little guarantee that a new government, be it Labour or Tory, would be able to stop Brexit, or even to get an extension on Article 50, and our heroic Remainer ex-MPs would longer be on the front lines, or on the TV and the papers all the time, and Remain would be greatly weakened without its brave little soldiers.
So I can’t see it happening.
What is slightly more possible is the Tory Brexiteers collapsing the government sometime from late February onwards in order to prevent any moves that are being made to stop a No Deal Brexit, as that would tie Parliament up in a new election which wouldn’t be decided until after March 29. That’s also pretty unlikely, though (the Brexiteers aren’t as unscrupulous as the Remainers), unless those moves really looked like being successful. But I don’t think the Brexiteers would fancy going into battle against Corbyn being led by Theresa May and Phillip Hammond. And if Labour wins who knows what might happen? A permanent Customs Union? (Whereas with Labour in oppisition they’re just going to vote against anything the Tories propose, which is what they’re now saying, which is what we Leavers want, because we want nothing to happen until March 29.)
Mind you, these Brexiteers could always vote with the government again in a further confidence vote within the two-week period (which Parliament gets to see if a new government can be formed) on the basis of May promising No Deal.
The DUP are probably the party most likely to vote against the Conservatives in a no-confidence vote, because they have no party loyalty to the Cons, and I presume they won’t have the same difficulties re-winning their seats as Anna Soubry will. Yesterday they pointed out that a 325-309 vote win means that if they change their votes the government goes down, which was a coded way of warning May that if she takes the wrong approach then she’s facing an election. But I also think this is unlikely. What is another election at this stage going to achieve for them? They’d probably lose the balance of power they currently have. If Labour gets in anything could happen. If the Tories win big then there’s an increased chance that an amended deal gets through.
So although the Conservatives have reportedly started preparing for a possible election, I doubt it will happen. But that’s me being rational, and nothing in UK politics at the moment is very rational…