by Martin Odoni

Following on from what I wrote last night about the Vote Of Confidence in Theresa May (and please consider that many a football manager down the years has received the dreaded ‘Vote-Of-Confidence’ from their clubs, and look what usually still happens to them in almost no-time-at-all); –

On social media, I am seeing that a lot of Labour supporters in particular seem really disappointed that May was not voted out last night. That is an understandable instinctive reaction, but they are not thinking things through. If May had lost, that would have given the Conservative Party a possible way out of the mess they have mired themselves in. A really uncomfortable and messy way out, but navigable. What happened instead has in fact intensified their log-jam. The odds were always strongly against May losing the vote, and with the actual numbers involved, last night really was the worst possible outcome of the vote for the Tories; –

The ideal result for them would be an overwhelming vote of support for May, probably, as it would be ideal for party unity and reinforcing her authority.

But the next-best would have been for May to lose outright. That way, the party could at least elect a new leader, who will be given a nice Honeymoon period without serious opposition and whom the ranks could unite around, and with whom the Democratic Unionist Party might have been able to do business again.

As last night has turned out though, the Tory Party got an indecisive victory for the incumbent, of the type that falls precisely between two stools for them. If the leader of the Conservatives survives a No-Confidence-Vote within the party, there cannot be another one for twelve months. So now, the Tories will, for at least a year, have to keep following a Prime Minister whom the DUP no longer trust (because she has negotiated a Brexit deal that leaves a serious chance of there being a Hard Border in the Irish Sea, despite her repeated assurances to them that she would not), and whose credibility has been seriously undermined by having over 33% of her party vote for her to go.

So last night has done exactly what most Tory opponents should have been hoping for; the DUP are now in the corner all the opposition parties have been waiting for, while at the same time May is now completely hamstrung by over a hundred rebels on her own backbenches who have tasted real blood.

This leaves the DUP in a ‘no-further-hedging-possible’ scenario, in which they have to decide once and for all whether they are going to keep the Confidence-&-Supply Arrangement with the Government going. They must now seriously consider supporting a Parliamentary Vote of No Confidence in the Government, if one is called. Because if they do not support it, they are stuck with May’s Brexit plan until long, long after time runs out at the end of March. They will be powerless to prevent the dreaded ‘Backstop’ if May is still in 10 Downing Street in April 2019.

And some Tory rebels on the Brexit-extremes may even contemplate supporting it too, for the same reason.

In short, this was a really good outcome for opposition parties, and it makes the possibility of forcing a new General Election stronger, not weaker.


Miles May Hem

The evil Miles May Hem, from the MASK cartoons