Theresa May Could Be Removed As Soon As Wednesday If Vote On Brexit Deal Fails

After months of wrangling with the EU over the details of the Irish backstop, followed by a delayed Commons vote as May wrangled with intransigent Brexiteers wary (hysterically so, some would argue) of becoming "trapped" in the customs union, Theresa May's supremely unpopular Brexit deal is finally expected to be called for a vote on Tuesday - that is, barring another last-minute delay.

According to the latest round of estimates from the British Press and Wall Street analysts, May's deal is expected to go down hard - possibly by more than 200 votes.

But as anybody who has been following the increasingly tedious negotiations should understand, this is part of May's plan. Or at least it was until very recently.

Despite numerous reports about rumored "Plan Bs" or hints that No. 10 might be considering a delay of Article 50 or even a second referendum, since the withdrawal agreement and its accompanying political statement were finalized by the EU, the only plan remotely resembling a cohesive strategy that has emerged would be to continue calling the deal up for successive votes until the EU offers more concessions or May runs out the clock until Brexit Day, effectively forcing MPs to chose between her deal and a 'no deal' Brexit (which May and her government have hysterically warned would be an unmitigated disaster).

Corbyn

But any flexibility May might have had to pursue this strategy disappeared last week as rebellious Tory MPs joined with Labour and the DUP to pass a series of amendments to wrest control of the Brexit process from May. One amendment passed by the Commons makes it so that a 'no deal' exit would require Parliament's explicit approval. Otherwise, Brexit Day would be delayed.

Another requires May to return to the table with a 'Plan B' deal - what May has interpreted as an ever-so-slightly modified version of her deal - within three days of the agreement being finalized.

With her hands now tied, another threat has emerged over the weekend. After waffling on the issue last week, it appears Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is intimating once again that he could table a no confidence motion in the prime minister's government if her deal is defeated on Tuesday. Though many believed May would be safe for at least a year after she survived a Tory no-confidence vote, the prospect that the DUP and even a few Tory rebels could join with Labour to topple May's government is surely provoking anxiety as the removal of May as prime minister would clear the way for a general election and inject even more chaos into the already turbulent Brexit process.

May

The Observer reported Sunday that Labour MPs have been told to prepare for a no-confidence vote as early as Tuesday evening in an attempt to force a general election.

Messages have been sent to Labour MPs, even those who are unwell, to ensure their presence both for the "meaningful vote" on the prime minister’s Brexit blueprint on Tuesday and the following day. Labour whips have told MPs the no-confidence vote is likely to be tabled within hours of a government loss, with the actual vote taking place on Wednesday.

Messages have been sent to Labour MPs, even those who are unwell, to ensure their presence both for the “meaningful vote” on the prime minister’s Brexit blueprint on Tuesday and the following day. Labour whips have told MPs the no-confidence vote is likely to be tabled within hours of a government loss, with the actual vote taking place on Wednesday.

The news comes before what promises to be one of the most tumultuous 24 hours in recent parliamentary history in which, barring another delay, May will put her Brexit deal to parliament despite deep and widespread opposition across the Commons, including from many MPs inside her own party.

A senior shadow cabinet member said: "There is now recognition that we cannot wait any longer. If May goes down to defeat and she does not resign and call an election, this is the moment we have to act."

Assuming May survives the motion, it's expected that May will call a series of "indicative votes" to determine what alternatives to her plan would be more palatable to MPs. One option reportedly gaining momentum would be permanent membership in the customs union for the entire UK.

May, meanwhile, has offered a "package" of reforms - including concessions on workers-rights and seeking more assurances from the EU that would give Parliament more power over whether to enter or exit the backstop.

All the while, May has continued with "Project Fear", warning on Saturday of "catastrophe" if MPs don't back her Brexit deal. Writing in the Sunday Express, the prime minister warned that allowing a 'no deal' exit would be an "unforgivable" breach of trust (despite the fact that it's now far more likely that Brexit Day will be delayed, with the Guardian reporting Sunday that the EU has begun preparations for Brexit to be delayed until at least July).

A quick glance at the public opinion polls would suggest that the British people now regret their choice after being subjected to months of chaotic headlines and seemingly interminable partisan bickering.

Brexit

Which would suggest that a new plan is gradually taking shape: keep delaying and delaying Brexit Day until people forget all about the referendum and move on with their lives.

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