By GRAHAME ANDERSON
Just after nine o’clock on Wednesday evening the Prime Minister learned she lived to fight another day having won through following a hastily triggered no-confidence vote. Needing to secure the backing of 159 MPs, or half the parliamentary party plus one, she actually secured 200 votes or 63 per cent, one more than in her original leadership election.
If the good news was her majority of 83 was clear cut – the bad news was 117 or 37 per cent were against her. It means of course there will still be a big question mark on just how long she can continue as both Leader of The Conservative Party and the country. It also seems certain she will not lead the party into the 2022 General Election, though she can’t be challenged again for another 12 months.
Theresa May did, however, leave Tory MPs in no doubt she was the only person who could see Brexit through. The result was announced by chair of the influential backbenchers 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. A short time after the announcement the PM was back outside No 10 Downing Street setting a defiant tone saying:
“For my part I have heard what the House of Commons said about the Northern Ireland backstop.
“I go to the European Council tomorrow.
“I will be seeking legal and political assurances that will assuage the concerns that Members of Parliament have on that issue.”
On a day Mrs May had planned to visit Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, she instead found herself talking to the media outside no 10 before presenting her case to fellow MPs, stating she was ready to “finish the job” she set out on when she became leader. The PM added: “We must and we shall deliver on the referendum vote and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.
“I will contest that vote with everything I’ve got.”
This was all as a result of her pulling the plug on Tuesday’s scheduled Brexit vote, pushing her opponents in the party to finally registering the required number of 48 letters or 15 per cent of the parliamentary party required to call a no-confidence vote. Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg had earlier tweeted: “The Country needs a new leader, it is time for Mrs May to resign.”
In many ways detractors have played into the hands of the PM, as she now can’t be ousted as Party Leader before March 29th next year, the day Britain leaves the EU. Even hard nosed Tories will now be expected to rally round her, especially when the whip gets to work. It’s still not inconceivable this could boost Mrs May’s chances of getting her plan through. At this point however, that still looks very unlikely.
It also takes away one of several scenarios. Labour will still be looking at the possibility of firing off a no-confidence vote in the commons, but admit, only if they feel certain they will win. As for the DUP, they’ve clearly said they won’t support such a motion at this time.
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rebbeca Long-Bailey, all but admitted what the Labour Party really want is a General Election. The SNP meanwhile see the opportunity of another Scottish Independence vote getting closer, covered by the Brexit umbrella.
The Brext upshot? – in truth nothing has really changed, though Asian Sunday has learned a note on matters of clarification possibly offered to the 27 EU leaders on Thursday, could perhaps offer a glimmer of hope to the PM. – Watch this space. She will surely be hoping for unprecedented help from her fellow Europeans to supply the perfect ‘Miracle On Downing Street’ Christmas present – early meeting drafts in Brussels might suggest otherwise. At the moment it looks like January 21st next year for the telling commons vote on the withdrawal agreement. For the frustrated British people, political ambition still seems to be dominating every-day issues and concerns. Anything can still and probably will happen before the years end. For the moment the beleaguered Prime Minister fights on.