May's UK gov't braces for no-confidence vote after historic Commons defeat

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  • Wed, 01/16/2019 - 10:46
  • EFE

The United Kingdom's Conservative Party government was on Wednesday braced for a vote of no confidence against it a day after the prime minister suffered a historic defeat in parliament when lawmakers roundly rejected her Brexit plan.

Theresa May's proposal for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, the result of two years of negotiations with Brussels, was rejected by a majority of 230 lawmakers in the House of Commons, the lower chamber of parliament, meaning 432 members voted against it, while only 202 backed it; the worst defeat for a sitting executive in the country's democratic era.

In response to the significant defeat, which had been widely predicted by political observers, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the left-leaning Labour Party opposition, said he would table a motion of no confidence against May's government, which is to be debated in the Commons after the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session on Wednesday until it is put to a vote on the evening. 

"This is a catastrophic defeat. The house has delivered its verdict on her deal. Delay and denial has reached the end of the line," Corbyn told the Commons as he announced the motion, something which had also been expected in the case of May's defeat. 

May delayed the initial parliamentary vote on her deal in December when it became clear that it would not make it through the chamber. 

In response, the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the withdrawal process was "at a standstill."

"So, in this context, it is up to the British authorities today or tomorrow to assess the outcome of this vote and up to the British government to find how we are to take things forward on Mar. 29 towards an orderly withdrawal," he told the European Parliament. 

Some 118 members of May's Conservative Party, including pro-European Tory MPs and hardline Brexit supporters, rebelled against the government in Tuesday's vote. As did the 10 parliamentary members of the DUP, a right-wing unionist party from Northern Ireland that functions as confidence and supply in the Commons, where the Conservative government wields a minority. 

The formation of right-wing Tory backbenchers, collectively known as the European Research Group, and the DUP have signaled they would back May in the motion of no confidence, making it less likely that Corbyn, whose own party is split on the Brexit issue, will be able to force a general election. 

If May is ousted, the government would have 14 days to present a new leader. However, if that candidate should also fail to secure the confidence of parliament and no viable alternatives are presented, then the UK could head towards an early election. 

A general election, which normally take place every five years in the UK, the next one being scheduled for 2022, could only be programmed after a minimum of 25 working days. 

May survived a no-confidence motion lodged by hardline members of her own party in December. According to Conservative Party rules, such a vote cannot be tabled for another year, meaning that if she withstands Labour's attempt to oust her, her job would be safe. 

The UK is slated to the leave the EU on Mar. 29, exactly two years after May officially notified the EU of the UK's intention of exiting the bloc by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

A loosely cobbled together cross-party ensemble of lawmakers, spanning backbench Labour MPs, the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and some Tories, have urged May to suspend Article 50. 

There have in recent weeks been increasingly vociferous calls for a second referendum, a so-called People's Vote. 

The UK electorate decided to leave the EU in a referendum in 2016. 


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