Could there be a vote of no-confidence this week? Although we sense that Jeremy Corbyn is not keen, Labour is overwhelmingly in favour, and so JC may be forced to pull the trigger.
Could Labour win such a vote? Our view remains (oh, let’s not use the word “remain”, let’s say “continues to be”) that not enough Tory turkeys are sufficiently stupid to vote for their own potential demise, and without this support from suicidal Blues, or the DUP, the no confidence vote will not succeed.
BUT WHAT IF? What if a no confidence motion was passed, and Theresa May was unable to wriggle out of calling a general election? How would it go?
An election would require postponing or retracting Article 50. The former of these options would be most politically savvy “We had to do it to make time for the election: it doesn’t reduce our commitment to Brexit.” Postponement until July 1 is acceptable to the EU, and gives plenty of time for an election.
It is not credible for Labour to campaign on a message of continuing with Brexit, but trust Jeremy Corbyn to negotiate a better Withdrawal Agreement than that achieved by Theresa May. How would he do that???
Jeremy Corbyn would have to bow to huge pressure from the Labour party, admit that they have changed their minds from the last manifesto, and push for a Second Referendum – which everyone knows is code for Remaining. A very significant portion of the electorate would be cross that Labour have forced yet another election, appearing to be a naked power-grab at a time of national crisis. A significant proportion of Labour’s core vote will be leavers unable to bring themselves to support a second referendum. They won’t support the Tories either, but without them, Labour will not win the swing seats that they need. Labour would also find themselves being characterised as the Islington elite telling the northern oiks that they got it wrong in the Brexit referendum, and that such voters need to be less racist and try harder this time. Not appealing.
It would be a good election for the Liberals, who have had the only consistent Remain message and could win a dozen extra seats in southern metropolitan areas.
Meanwhile, the Tories are in the best situation. Mrs May would not resign on the basis that the approach to an election is no time for leadership challenges, and she cannot be forced to do so.. The Conservative campaign would be based on a ‘Brexit Means Brexit’ ticket, asking the country to let them carry on delivering the best Brexit possible, as they were instructed to do in the referendum. Mrs May and her deal are not popular among the True Blue faithful, but surely such voters would hold their noses and vote Tory rather than risk Jeremy Corbyn as PM? With a few more centrist policies promising worker rights and benefits, the Conservatives would attract enough swing voters to gain a decent majority.
We believe that a Brexit Election would win a clear victory for Mrs May, who could then push through her Withdrawal Agreement despite rebels in her own party. Wouldn’t it be ironic – lose a Vote of No Confidence but gain a decent majority in the subsequent election? Maybe Labour should be careful what they wish for…..