Much Ado About Everything No 16: Brexit - No Reason For Confidence

Theresa May won a vote of confidence tonight but the theatrics in parliament will reassure no-one.

Theresa May has just survived the vote of confidence, among her own party's parliamentarians and forced by the Conservative Brexiteers, by 200 to 117. On the face of it this is a respectable margin. Furthermore, the Conservative Party cannot call another vote of confidence in her leadership for 12 months (although the opposition parties in parliament could).

On the face of it, this looks to be an improvement in prospects for the Brexit deal on the table. In practice, however, it almost certainly means that at least 117 members of the Parliamentary Conservative Party (PCP) will vote against the deal on that table. Even if Mrs May were to win some (probably cosmetic) changes to the deal in Brussels tomorrow at the European Council meeting it is unlikely that this number would decline significantly.

As for the commitment she made (more or less) in the run-up to the vote to step down as party leader before the next election, I remain firmly of the view that she was unlikely to be able to hang on for long after 29 March 2019 in any case (unless, that is, Article 50 is indeed suspended between now and then).

In short, tonight's vote changes little, if anything, substantively relative to where things stood at the start of the week.

Alastair Newton