UK's Labour MPs told to ready for no-confidence vote over Brexit

If Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn's confidence vote fails, he would be under pressure to back a second referendum on Britain's exit from the European Union.
If Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn's confidence vote fails, he would be under pressure to back a second referendum on Britain's exit from the European Union.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is planning to call for an immediate vote of non-confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May's government on Tuesday (Jan 15) evening, assuming her Brexit withdrawal Bill is heavily defeated in Parliament.

Opposition lawmakers have been asked to ensure they will be present both for the vote on Mrs May's Bill and a confidence vote the following day, regardless of whether they are ill, the Guardian's Sunday edition, the Observer, reported.

The Prime Minister has already pushed the crucial vote on ratifying the Brexit package back by a month in a bid to win backing, and it looks like those efforts have failed. Senior ministers had been urging Mrs May to get help from Mr Corbyn if Parliament kills her deal, according to people familiar with the matter. Those efforts also look to have come to naught.

Under British electoral law, the Conservatives would have two weeks to try to form a new government after losing a confidence vote. Only after that would an election be called.

If Mr Corbyn's confidence vote fails, he would be under pressure to back a second referendum on Britain's exit from the European Union.

Mr Roy Hattersley, a former deputy Labour leader, came out in favour of another referendum on Saturday. Mr Hattersley had been due to speak with politicians current and former, including former minister Margaret Beckett, at a rally in Sheffield to back the plan for a second ballot, but pulled out because of illness.

Adding to Mrs May's woes: The Sunday Times reported that a group of cross-party members is working on a plan that would enable Parliament to suspend Article 50 - which triggers Britain's withdrawal - and potentially put the Brexit process on hold.

 
 

Mr Julian Smith, the government's Chief Whip, asked for legal advice on the issue when he heard about it - the newspaper said he was told that the government's future was at stake.

Mrs May, writing in the Sunday Express, appealed to lawmakers to follow through on the mandate of voters, and she warned of risks if the measure is defeated on Tuesday.

"Doing so would be a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy," she said. "My message to Parliament this weekend is simple: It is time to forget the games and do what is right for our country."