Corbyn’s Confidence Chaos

Jeremy Corbyn has done his best to emulate the plot of a Thick of It episode with his fraught attempts to table a confidence vote this week. Here’s how the chaos unfolded:

  • Sunday: Andrew Gwynne tells Marr that Labour won’t be tabling a confidence motion before May holds the meaningful vote.
  • Monday 3pm: Labour sources brief that Corbyn will table a confidence vote in the Prime Minister – not the Government – this week if she doesn’t confirm a date for the meaningful vote.
  • 3.30pm: May gives statement to Parliament confirming the vote will be held in the week of 14th January. Unlike a vote of confidence in the Government, a vote of confidence in the PM is non-binding and doesn’t automatically get debated straight away…
  • 3.45pm: Corbyn responds to May’s statement but fails to follow through on his threat to call a confidence vote. His team insist they weren’t aware of the date when they briefed out the threat even though Corbyn had advanced sight of the statement…
  • 5pm: John McDonnell does a media round spinning that Labour have “got what we wanted” over the vote. All May did was confirm the vote would take place the week before her self-appointed deadline…
  • 6pm: Corbyn finally U-turns and does table a confidence vote, but only in the Prime Minister personally. This is basically just a symbolic censure motion…
  • 7pm: The ERG and DUP confirm they will support the Prime Minister against Corbyn’s “meaningless” motion. Nigel Dodds says his party is “not interested in the parliamentary antics or play-acting of the Labour Party”.
  • 8.50pm: Government sources confirm they will not schedule any time for Corbyn’s motion to be debated, dismissing it as “silly political games”. Corbyn will have to table the motion in opposition time…
  • 9pm: Other opposition parties table an amendment to Corbyn’s motion to upgrade it a proper vote of no confidence. Still no sign that Corbyn is prepared to do so himself…

The net effect is that something that was meant to be an embarrassment for the Government has completely backfired and embarrassed Corbyn instead. He remains unwilling to table a full vote of no confidence in the Government until he thinks he can win it, so they are simply sitting back and calling his bluff. Corbyn is afraid of being forced into backing a second referendum if he tables a full confidence vote and loses. Particularly with the Blairites spying it as a potential opportunity to finally jump ship and turn the People’s Vote campaign into their new third party…


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Expelled Tory MP, Richard Benyon, on the short three-day Programme Motion for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill:

“Whether you had three days, three weeks or three months debating this, you would not hear one original argument that we hadn’t otherwise heard in this process…”

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