Leaders of the Lib Dems, Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP have called on Jeremy Corbyn to table a motion of no confidence in the government “at the earliest possible opportunity”.
Their joint letter to Corbyn challenges him to “work with other parties in Westminster to fulfil the demands – shared by the overwhelming majority of Labour voters and members – for a People’s Vote” if the vote of no confidence is lost.
The Labour leader is under pressure from other opposition parties and dozens of his own MPs – who have written their own letter, organised by Ian Murray – to call the vote immediately.
But a Labour spokesperson last night made clear that the motion would be put down “when we judge it most likely to be successful”, adding: “It is clear to us that Theresa May will not renegotiate the deal when she goes to Brussels, and will only be asking for reassurances from EU leaders.
“When she brings the same deal back to the House of Commons without significant changes, others across the House will be faced with that reality.
“At that point, she will have decisively and unquestionably lost the confidence of parliament on the most important issue facing the country, and parliament will be more likely to bring about the general election our country needs to end this damaging deadlock.”
Labour sources supportive of Corbyn’s position point out that the DUP would currently support the government in such a vote, which would therefore fail. They also argue that, although there is no legal mechanism to stop a no-confidence motion being laid more than once, it would be politically unwise to make repeated attempts.
Theresa May has lost all authority. We are fully prepared to bring a no confidence motion for the purpose of defeating the Government and forcing a General Election.
But we aren’t going to table one for the purpose of it being defeated, strengthening May and uniting Tories. 3/3
— Ian Lavery MP (@IanLaveryMP) December 11, 2018
The SNP has reportedly threatened to table the motion itself if Corbyn does not promise to do so by the end of the day. The Labour leader is due to meet SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford this afternoon.
Update: The Blackford-Corbyn meeting has been postponed.
It is unclear whether the Speaker would accept the motion if it came from another party leader. When Lib Dem Tom Brake raised the matter on Monday, Bercow replied: “It’s open to a representative of a party other than the principal opposition to table such a motion. The ordinary working assumption is that such a motion is taken if it is proffered by the official opposition.”
Below is the full letter from opposition party leaders to Jeremy Corbyn.
Today, the shadow cabinet is meeting at a time of constitutional and national crisis.
The government’s inability to pass its Brexit deal through parliament, as witnessed by Theresa May’s withdrawal of her own motion in parliament yesterday, leaves no option for us as leaders of opposition parties but to call for a motion of no confidence to be put on the floor of the House of Commons.
Labour’s annual conference in September voted for a policy that commits your party to oppose a bad Brexit deal, seek a general election and, if that does not succeed, campaign for a People’s Vote. Today is your opportunity to begin fulfilling that policy by joining the Westminster parliamentary leaders of the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru (The Party of Wales) and the Green Party in supporting a motion of no confidence in the government.
We believe a motion of no confidence must be brought forward at the earliest possible opportunity, to ensure there is enough time to pursue another course. Therefore we want to emphasise again that you will have our full support if you put down a motion of no confidence.
Today, we ask that you, together with your shadow cabinet, agree as Her Majesty’s Leader of the Opposition to bring forward a motion with us to enable confidence in this government to be tested before it is too late and to put parliament back in charge of this process.
We intend to hold a joint press conference today at the IET in Central London where we will discuss this further.
Ian Blackford MP – Leader of the Scottish National Party (Westminster)
Liz Saville Roberts MP – Westminster Group Leader, Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales
Caroline Lucas MP – Green Party
Rt. Hon. Sir Vince Cable MP – Leader of the Liberal Democrats