December 13, 2017

by Martin Odoni

Did you hear them?

Theresa May has lost a binding vote in the House of Commons tonight. You suspect that will happen to her again soon, unless she does something she was being advised to do in the aftermath.

Did you hear them, offering said advice?

Here is the big moment. Listen to the Opposition benches. Listen as they call out, “Resign!”

Yes, it has started; the chorus that has echoed down the centuries when a Government’s mast has toppled over. The demand that its leader should resign. It is often a very bad sign for the incumbent party when Opposition parties start making that demand.

May will have some serious thinking to do after tonight. She’s been hamstrung by her own hubris for over six months, and tonight the precariousness of her position was cruelly exposed. A small rebellion on the Government backbenches of just eleven was enough to defeat the Prime Minister, and force a Commons vote on the final deal as the UK leaves the European Union. That small number is doubly remarkable when one considers that seven Labour MPs supported the Government, who still lost by 309 to 305.

This is no small matter for the Government; the Conservative upper echelons were clearly desperate not to lose this vote. The Tory Whips are understood to have reduced one woman MP to tears today as they tried to force her into line. A last-gasp concession was also tabled to lure potential rebels to support the Government, or at least to abstain. Stephen Hammond, one of the rebels, was sacked as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party within an hour of the vote. Oh, it matters all right.

The loss means that the pro-Brexit fanatics on the extremist fringe of the Tory party will now be wondering whether there is much point in supporting May any further. Not now that it looks a dead certainty that she cannot deliver a complete severance from the EU, in line with what they want. She also has yet more talks with EU leaders tomorrow, who will sit opposite her at the European Council table in full knowledge that this woman does not really govern, she merely presides. Meanwhile, Dominic Grieve and his fellow pro-Remain rebels have seen that when they dare to speak out against May’s handling of Brexit, it can have an effect. A bruising effect.

So with the Opposition benches now emboldened enough to call out, “Resign!“, with the anti-Brexit faction on the Government benches emboldened by seeing how effective they can be, and the pro-Brexit faction looking increasingly unimpressed by what May has to offer, why does May not do as suggested and resign? All she has to look forward to if she stays on is more powerless chaos.

In the 1840’s, Benjamin Disraeli, a rebellious Tory MP in his own right long before becoming a Tory Prime Minister, was at loggerheads with his leader, Sir Robert Peel, over the proposed repeal of the Corn Laws. During the spat, Disraeli famously described Conservative Governments as “organised hypocrisy”. But as tonight has demonstrated, that description is nonsense.

There is nothing “organised” about Conservative Governments.

2 Responses to ““RESIGN!””

  1. […] Source: “RESIGN!” | TheCritique Archives […]

  2. Alun Smith Says:

    This result is now entirely meaningless to the peoples of Wales and Scotland since one of the very next votes was to power-grab from the two devolved nations.In one single,petty fell swoop The Conservative and Unionist Party undid 20 years of hard work by the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland.They have tangibly risked politically isolating England in the process.It is not,I feel,melodramatic to suggest that this vote could ultimately lead to an uncomfortable but necessary independence vote for both Wales and Scotland and the eventual break up of the UK as we know it . What possible good could come of this? Unless this act is repealed I see a very depressed future for all 4 home nations .

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