Some Labour MPs want to win and others want to lose. The problem is, neither group can get what they wantby Steve Bloomfield / December 12, 2018 / Leave a comment
When is the right time for Labour to call a vote of no confidence in the government? According to certain pro-Remain Labour MPs, it was Monday, after May pulled the vote of the Withdrawal Agreement.
No, claimed the leadership’s supporters—that would only serve to unite the Conservatives at a time when they are horrendously split.
This morning, as it emerged that Theresa May was facing a no confidence vote of a very different kind, the leadership appeared to be vindicated. Even some of those who had called for a no confidence vote now accept they were wrong.
But that still leaves the question of when a no confidence vote should be called. First, let’s look at the numbers. There are 315 Conservative MPs (plus two as-good-as Conservatives currently without the whip). Add in the 10 DUP MPs and the government has 327 MPs who would be expected to back it in a no confidence vote.
Opposing them are 257 Labour MPs (plus 5 who ran as Labour candidates but are now, for various reasons, without the whip), 35 from the SNP, 11 Lib Dems (plus one whipless MP), 4 from Plaid Cyrmu, a solitary Green, and Sylvia Hermon, an independent. All in all, that’s 315. (There are eight more MPs—the speaker and seven from Sinn Féin—who all, of course, do not vote.)
For the opposition to win a no confidence vote they need to persuade seven government supporters to switch sides. Is the DUP willing to support the Labour party—led by the Sinn Féin-supporting Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell—in its efforts to bring down the government? No.
Are there seven Conservative MPs willing to support the Labour party in its efforts to bring down the government? At the moment, no.
This could all change depending on what happens tonight. Were May to lose and be replaced by a hardline Brexiteer who wants the country to leave without a deal, some of those pro-European Conservative MPs may be willing to back a no confidence motion—but even that is an extremely long shot.
Do they want to win?
But none of this matters if the point of holding a no confidence vote isn’t in order to bring down the government. And that, strangely, is the…