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The Labour Party will reportedly table a motion of No Confidence in Theresa May’s minority Tory government imminently – a motion which would be voted upon by all MPs should the Prime Minister’s proposed Brexit deal get voted down, as looks almost certain, in the House of Commons on Tuesday December 11th.
The motion of no confidence would pass if it gains the support of a simple majority of MPs, and will almost certainly be approved if the DUP fail to support the government.
The Fixed Term Parliament Act means that if the government loses the initial vote, they will have just 14 days to win another vote of confidence in the House of Commons.
Astonishingly, the deadline for the government to win a second vote of confidence would fall on Christmas day.
If the government were unable to win a second vote, the Fixed Term Parliament Act states that a General Election would then follow.
With around 100 Tory MPs indicating they will vote against Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal, it is almost certain that the government will lose this meaningful vote on the 11th December.
However, with the whole Conservative Party also terrified of enabling a Corbyn-led Labour government, it would be unprecedented to see many Tory MPs also supporting a vote of no confidence in their own government.
Yet, with all opposition MPs expected to vote against the government, and with the Conservative Party relying on the DUP for their working majority in the Commons, any vote of confidence would surely hinge upon which way the Northern Irish party vote.
But, given the DUP’s vociferous opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and given their openness to Labour’s Brexit proposals – which, unlike May’s deal, would maintain the integrity of the union – it is entirely likely that Arlene Foster’s party would vote to bring down the government.
The last successful motion of no confidence was passed in 1979 against James Callaghan’s minority Labour government by just a single vote, and today’s parliamentary mathematics make a similar result very likely.
If the motion is passed against the government, a General Election is likely be held in early 2019.
If a Labour government was subsequently elected, Article 50 would almost certainly have to be extended in order to allow Jeremy Corbyn’s party to renegotiate their own Brexit deal.
It is widely believed that Labour’s Brexit proposals – which include a permanent Customs Union, guarantees on worker’s rights and environmental rights, and a say on future trade deals – would be able to gain a majority of support in the House of Commons.