A Vote of No Confidence – The End of May?
Theresa May recently announced that she had secured a deal with the European Union on Brexit. Having given the impression that all was well within the Cabinet on this as well, soon enough, things deteriorated. Major Cabinet positions were left vacant after Senior Cabinet Ministers including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey resigned in protest of May’s Brexit deal. Moreover, unrest from Tory backbenchers has escalated to the point where Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, may soon have the 48 letters necessary to initiate a vote of no confidence against Theresa May’s leadership. In short, time seems to be running out not only for May’s vision of a post-Brexit Britain, as set out at Chequers but also her premiership.
Should a vote of no confidence happen, I do not see a way in which May could possibly retain her power. Of course, she could win the vote and continue as Prime Minister. But, even if she were to win, the vote in itself indicates chaos in government, chaos over Brexit, and an immediate need for change in leadership. However, even if she were to resign, there is a chronic lack of credible alternatives within the Conservative Party that could succeed her. Boris Johnson has arguably ruined his image and credibility through a previous failure to gain the leadership in 2016, not to mention his controversial record as Foreign Secretary and potentially a small chance of uniting the party and driving through a Brexit deal that Parliament will accept. Others such as David Davis, Sajid Javid and Michael Gove could be options. Or perhaps a Tory backbencher in Jacob Rees-Mogg, though having denied ambitions to run for the leadership, could throw his hat in the ring. There would be an enormous task ahead for any of them. Crises in healthcare, housing, and Brexit, are all in need of a solution. The DUP are teetering on withdrawing their support entirely, and no other party seems keen on propping up a tired party that lacks ideas and ambition on anything, including Brexit.
Either way, I believe that should a vote of no confidence happen, the prospect of a General Election will become ever-more popular. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party remains somewhat ambiguous on Brexit – continuing to respect the result of the referendum in 2016, but evidently not ruling out a possible second referendum in the future. Should an election be held, the Conservative Party’s time in power will come to an end; the opposition benches beckon. It is a big challenge to win an election in the current state of affairs, and so whoever takes over will likely need to focus on rebuilding the party to challenge again in future.
And with regards to the future of Brexit, hunger for a second referendum continues to build but hasn’t quite reached a point where it will follow through. For now, pursuing a Brexit deal is the aim of the game, as opposed to considering ‘no deal’ or a return to the EU. But, it doesn’t mean moods cannot continue to change. So long as Brexit continues to be a shamble, the extremes will come into play. And for the sake of this country, we must hope to avoid crashing out without a deal. A second referendum is a worthy option, albeit with flaws.
Overall, the situation looks bleak for May. Over 20 Conservative MPs have been confirmed to have submitted letters of no confidence, and they won’t disappear so long as May continues to cause unrest within the party rank and file. From my point of view, the Conservative Party is evidently tired and exhausted. Regardless of whether May stays or goes, a change of government is needed. Brexit requires fresh eyes and a fresh vote.