The spectacle belongs to the Tories and aren’t they providing top notch entertainment? Theresa May’s vote of confidence by Tory MPs doesn’t change anything. In fact it makes it harder for her. She cannot now face a similar challenge from her own party within the next 12 months. In which case the Tories will carry on stumbling through Brexit and potentially will lose the meaningful vote, if they ever decide to hold it.
This entire Brexit process started by David Cameron in response to the growing electoral threat of UKIP was mainly a way of drawing a line under the Europe question in his party. By winning a referendum and staying in the EU he would achieve what Major failed to achieve and gain unity for a generation on the issue. To say that this strategy backfired is an understatement. That the British public has failed to punish the Tories for it is unfortunate.The public have been sucked along into this Tory Party battle as if it were their own. We have the sad sight of many working class people unable to break free of the thrall of this largely ruling class debate. Meanwhile the Labour Party muddles through with various policies depending on what is happening on the ground, meaning they can switch at a moment’s notice.
The vote of confidence in May came about because of the Labour Party though. The mainstream media has failed to pick up on this in any detail. The previous week the government was found to be in contempt of Parliament, an exceedingly rare event. It came after the Opposition moved a motion to ensure that the government released the legal advice it had obtained with regards to the Brexit deal that May had negotiated. Having lost that vote they then released the advice which was said to be ‘dynamite’. It was. It showed that the Northern Ireland backstop could be an indefinite arrangement, something May had never indicated. This incensed the DUP which the government relies on for its majority in parliament. It also angered Tory Brexiteer MPs.
Despite this development solidifying the objections to the meaningful vote, the government spent £100,000 on facebook advertising over the following weekend, promoting the deal. Ministers toured the country and minutes before the meaningful vote was delayed they were on TV and the radio saying it would definitely go ahead. Then it was pulled and we had the bizarre spectacle of the prime minister standing at the dispatch box in the Commons saying that although her deal was the best and only deal that she would go to the EU and renegotiate it. The faces of Tory MPs behind her said it all. It was clear that more letters of no confidence would head to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee.
The Tory party has us by the throats as it sorts itself out.Except whatever happens in the next few hours, days, weeks, that party will still be raging and fighting itself. May stumbles on having won the vote but her rebels vow to carry on fighting her over Brexit. It isn’t just the Brexiteers either; the Remainers want changes too. She cannot give them all what they want. If the meaningful vote is held it will likely fall and at that point the UK could be heading towards a general election. The irony of that is that Theresa May won the confidence vote after assuring her party she would not be leader at the next general election. Without time to replace her, any snap election means they crash headlong into a campaign with a leader many of them don’t want. At the end of 2018 the state of the UK, the reality of the UK is that the Tory Party splitting itself apart rules over everything else.