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Following the Tories’ historic defeat on their crucial Brexit withdrawal bill last night, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence against Theresa May’s government.
The motion is currently being debated by MPs in Parliament, but – with the Tories expected to retain the support of the DUP in tonight’s vote – it is widely expected to fail by a slim margin.
In anticipation of defeat, several members of the Labour frontbench have already indicated that if tonight’s motion does indeed fail, they will simply continue tabling no confidence motions against the government until it is passed by MPs.
However, whilst the Liberal Democrats have confirmed they will be supporting tonight’s motion of no confidence, they are said to be planning to abstain on any future no confidence motions tabled by Labour against Theresa May’s government.
The Liberal Democrats are in favour of a second Brexit referendum, and have been attempting to pressure the Labour leadership into supporting the same stance for the last two years.
But a composite motion passed at Labour conference in the autumn compelled the Labour leadership to first pursue a General Election in order to break the Brexit deadlock, but failing that, they would keep all options on the table, including switching to support a second Brexit referendum.
But now, TalkRadio journalist Ross Kempsell has reported that the Lib Dems may try to force Labour’s hand into supporting a second Brexit referendum by refusing to back them on any future no confidence motions against Theresa May’s government, tweeting:
“Understand there are conversations underway right now between SNP, Plaid and LibDems re penning joint letter stating that they will not back repeated motions of no confidence if Corbyn loses tonight – so Labour would be trying again on its own”
Understand there are conversations underway right now between SNP, Plaid and LibDems re penning joint letter stating that they will not back repeated motions of no confidence if Corbyn loses tonight – so Labour would be trying again on its own
— Ross Kempsell (@rosskempsell) January 16, 2019
If the scheme turns out to be true, it remains to be seen exactly Lib Dem supporters would react to their party essentially propping up Theresa May’s zombie government – a tactic that could, ironically, end up enabling a catastrophic No Deal Brexit instead.
UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the SNP has told Evolve that the party has not been part of such a conversation and would not sign up to such a letter, but could not explicitly pledge that the SNP would back any second or third confidence motion when pressed.
UPDATE 2: Kirsty Blackman, the SNP Deputy Westminster Leader, has now explicitly confirmed to Evolve that the SNP will definitely be supporting any second or third confidence motion against the Tories.
Hello. I am explicitly confirming it. Hope this helps.
— Kirsty Blackman (@KirstySNP) January 16, 2019