Holy crap, that was close… After yesterday’s historically humiliating defeat of her deal in the House of Commons, which showed the deep rift in the Tory party, today’s No Confidence motion has patched up the divisions enough for Theresa May to survive for another day. But only by a whisker; the final tally was 306 votes of No Confidence to 325 votes against the motion.
Where does that leave us? In some ways, exactly where we’ve been for months. This is Groundhog May and it’s driving us all bonkers. We still have a looming deadline, a divided nation, vague ideas and a parliamentary deadlock.
May, inexplicably still in power, has gone so far as to concede that she will finally talk to the leaders of other parties in order to ‘work constructively’ to find a solution. She wants those meetings to start tonight. Remember that she has to propose a Plan B by Monday; this will be an ‘amendable proposal’, she says. (Also known as unfinished homework.)
The responses from the other parties show some progress. Corbyn insisted that the prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit must be ruled out before any talks can take place. The SNP agreed, and added that options to extend Article 50 (kicking that ticking clock a bit further away) and to provide a People’s Vote need to be on the table. The Liberal Democrats also insist that ‘no deal’ must be ruled out, and a People’s Vote ruled in. May now has to factor in these demands with those of the Hard Brexiteers in her own party.
Then there was a very telling comment from the DUP, who voted against the deal on Tuesday, but supported the Prime Minister today. They indicated that the result of the No Confidence vote illustrated the importance of their confidence and supply arrangement with the Tories — the expensive deal that props up May’s government and without which she loses her majority. They will only support Brexit on their terms. Yesterday’s events were a warning.
All in all, none of this solves the impossible riddle of Brexit, but instead offers more ‘red lines’. May had to take another full day of people telling her how awful she is, including a particularly savage takedown from the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson.
Throughout history prime ministers have tried their best and failed. There is no disgrace in that. That’s politics.
But this prime minister has chosen one last act of defiance - not just defying the laws of politics, but defying the laws of mathematics.
It was a Disraeli who said “a majority is always better than the best repartee”. She is a prime minister without a majority for her flagship policy, with no authority and no plan B.
Mr Speaker … that’s not a mere flesh wound.
No one doubts her determination, which is generally an admirable quality, but misapplied it can be toxic.
And the cruellest truth of all is that she doesn’t possess the necessary political skills, empathy, ability, and most crucially the policy, to lead this country any longer …
We know [May] has worked hard. But the truth is she is too set in her ways, too aloof to lead.
She lacks the imagination and agility to bring people with her.
She lacks the authority on the world stage to negotiate this deal.
Ultimately she has failed. It is not through lack of effort. It is not through a lack of dedication.
And I think the country recognises that effort. In fact the country feels genuinely sorry for the prime minister.
I feel sorry for the prime minister. But she cannot confuse pity for political legitimacy, sympathy for sustainable support.
(Transcript from The Guardian’s livefeed)
The most vehement speech in her defence was from (excuse me while I have a quick vom) Michael Gove, who used his speech as an unofficial audition to take over from her —- once he’s found an opportune moment to stab her in the back, of course.
If you’re reading this and thinking, what the damn hell, you’re not alone. I’ll leave you with this perfect gem from our Slack channel, courtesy of Dustin:
Your country makes no sense. It’s like if the United States voted to send a manned mission to Mars, but no one agreed to go on the manned mission, and then everyone spent two years arguing about how to make the impossible happen when the ONLY realistic option is to cancel the damned manned mission to Mars because it’s not going to happen, while Theresa May is like, “What if we send three dogs and two pigs to Mars?” and her party is like, “NO FUCKING WAY. It must be HUMANS” but all the humans are like, “Fuck you. I’m not going to Mars.”
Yep. Sounds about right.
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