A very Brexit Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful season - catering for millions of people, trying to manage family politics, wrestling with endless fairy lights....but for Theresa May it was a whole different kind of stressful. As you may be aware, shortly before Parliament went on recess for Christmas, there was a messy political eruption of all things Brexit, and once again May did not come off on top.

After drafting a final Brexit deal containing the controversial ‘Irish backstop’ which has received so much criticism, May faced resistance from all sides of the House. The Labour Party were for the most part in disagreement, as the majority of Labour MPs are remainers. May also faced considerable struggle within her own party, both from ‘hard’ brexiters, and the few remainer MPs. For many, this Brexit deal was a weak and ineffective attempt to take back UK control of our trade and border control, two of the main issues for which Brexit was first discussed. After months of doubt and disagreement, it was fairly unsurprising when the first few whispers of a No Confidence vote began to circulate.

A Vote of Confidence occurs when a Prime Minister’s own party choose to take a vote to challenge their leadership. For months, Conservative MPs had been writing to the 1922 Committee with their letters of No Confidence. The number of letters required to trigger a vote is 15%, or in this case 48 MPs. This number was reached shortly before Christmas, halting the process of voting on the Brexit deal so that it could be considered in Brussels before Christmas. Instead, the Vote of No Confidence had to be taken.

There are few things as demoralising for a Prime Minister than a Vote of No Confidence; when your party openly declares that they no longer have faith in your leadership or policies. There have been only a small handful of Prime Ministers who have ever been ousted by a Vote of No Confidence, and many of the British public could not help but be reminded of the slow and tragic demise of Margaret Thatcher, the only other female Prime Minister Britain has ever had.

The vote was taken on December 12th. In order to survive a vote, the May had to win 50% of MPs plus one - a majority of one. This translated to 158 MPs. May secured the vote in the end with 63% - 200 to 117, and a majority of 83 MPs. As the rules dictate, she is therefore secured against any leadership challenges for 12 months. However, her authority has been seriously undermined. 

This week, the House will be voting whether or not to approve May’s Brexit deal. This is a crucial vote, as if the deal is rejected, May will be heading for a No Deal Brexit, which is quite honestly the worst possible outcome of this whole Brexit catastrophe. A No Brexit Deal would likely mean that Britain would not achieve the majority of its aims regarding border control, taxing, trade legislature, and many more. However, with a continually divided house, a No Deal Brexit looks like the ever more likely outcome. As May’s authority is waning, so is the faith of the British public in any type of Brexit that won’t leave us grovelling at the feet of the European Union forevermore.