British members of Parliament (MPs) are set to vote Tuesday on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the European Union. Currently, all signs are pointing toward a disastrous defeat for May, and the loyal opposition Labor Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn (shown), is poised to pounce on her misfortune.
If and when May’s Brexit deal with the EU fails to pass the House of Commons, Corbyn is set to call for a vote of no-confidence in May as early as Tuesday night. When asked directly by the BBC whether a vote of no-confidence was coming immediately after the expected defeat of May’s plan in Parliament, Corby responded, “It’s going to be soon, don’t worry about that.”
Corbyn addressed Labour MPs about May’s Brexit plan and its expected failure on Sunday evening. “Theresa May’s deal is a bad deal for our country. It fails to meet the needs of millions of our constituents facing deep insecurity and stress from a lack of good jobs, inadequate housing and chronic under-investment in their communities and their futures.”
Corbyn accused May of blackmail as she has repeatedly said that the alternative to nixing her deal is a no-deal Brexit, which pundits claim would result in economic chaos. “Theresa May has attempted to blackmail Labour MPs to vote for her botched deal by threatening the country with the chaos of no-deal. I know from conversations with colleagues that this has failed."
In a Monday speech to factory workers in the “Leave”-supporting city of Stoke-on-Trent in Central England, May told the crowd, “There are some in Westminster who wish to delay or even stop Brexit and who will use every device available to them to do so.”
The PM’s office stated that she also warned the crowd that, should her deal be defeated, that MPs would vote to block Brexit altogether, rather than use the no-deal option, which would have the U.K. leave the EU without a deal in place, otherwise known as a “hard Brexit.”
In a last-ditch effort to gain support for her deal, May is claiming to have received assurances from the EU that have “legal force” on key issues, chief among them the Irish Backstop, which many Brexiteers fear would tie the U.K. in a de-facto trade union with the EU for the foreseeable future. These assurances are spelled out in a letter from European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. From the letter:
The European Council also said that, if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered, it would only apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that a hard border [between Ireland and Northern Ireland] is avoided, and that the European Union, in such a case, would use its best endeavors to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.
May also said that by scrapping Brexit, Parliament will be “betraying the vote of the British people.”
“Over these next 24 hours, give this deal a second look,” May urged MPs.
But Corbyn is unsympathetic to May’s last-minute efforts on behalf of her plan and Brexit in general. “When the Prime Minister’s deal is defeated, she will only have herself to blame. She has spent two years negotiating with her Cabinet and her bickering backbenchers instead of the EU, shutting out trade unions, businesses and parliament from the process.”
“The Tory Party’s botched deal will be rejected by Parliament. 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,” Corbyn concluded.
But many MPs — even in Corbyn’s own Labour Party — are uncertain of what his next move would be vis-à-vis Brexit. Corbyn has not backed a new referendum as of yet. He has not even said that a Labour government would continue to pursue Brexit at all. The only thing certain is that he would not back a no-deal Brexit. There is no clarity from Corbyn as to what Labour would do concerning the most important political issue in the U.K. since World War II.
May’s Chequer’s Plan — called a “soft Brexit” by many — was widely disliked when she first released it back in July. Hardline Brexiteers immediately thought the deal would tie the U.K. too closely to the entity (the EU) it was trying too leave. Those who wished to remain in the EU hated it for the opposite reason. Theresa May tried to walk down the middle of the road in an attempt to make both sides happy. Now, she is paying the price — getting hit from both sides.
Photo: flickr.com / Chatham House