MPs organising to block a 2017 Brexit election and imprison Theresa May in Number 10

by Atul Hatwal

Over the last few days the true weakness of Theresa May’s parliamentary position has been revealed.

First there was the climbdown on Brexit scrutiny and now the Heathrow delay.

May’s small majority means that less than ten disgruntled Tory backbenchers can confidently block her plans. Lest we forget, 35 sacked Cameroon ministers sit on the backbenches courtesy of her first act as PM.

Last Wednesday, following the Brexit U-turn, Uncut highlighted the increased likelihood of an early election for May to boost her majority so that she could pass her programme. On Saturday, Sam Coates in the Times similarly wrote of the rising prospect of an early poll.

Now Uncut hears that MPs from across the main parties have started to informally discuss how to prevent the Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA) being circumvented to trigger an early election.

What unites these MPs is a desire to stop hard Brexit which would be enabled by the inevitable, sizeable Tory majority following any contest between May’s Tories and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

If Theresa May wanted to call an early election she has two options: repeal the Fixed Term Parliament Act and re-institute the previous arrangements or call a vote of no confidence and whip the government to be defeated, paving the way for an election (there is another option – under the FTPA, a two-thirds majority in parliament can trigger an election but that requires both Conservative and Labour support which is fanciful)

The first option is virtually impossible because of the parliamentary weakness which makes an early election desirable for Theresa May.

There would easily be enough Conservative rebels to defeat any attempt at FTPA repeal and replacement.

The no confidence vote has always been more likely, especially given Jeremy Corbyn’s stated position that Labour would welcome an early election.

In a rare act of unity, PLP leadership loyalists and moderate rebels have been largely genuine in their commitment to bring down May with a motion of no confidence and launch into an election, if the opportunity arose.

For the Corbynistas, the symbolism of bringing down a Tory government would be totemic.

For many moderates, the electoral apocalypse would conclusively demonstrate the futility of Corbynism and enable the remnants of Labour that survived the deluge to start on the long road back to electability.

However, over the past week, Labour’s calculus has begun to shift as the prospect of a poll has become more real.

For Labour’s hard left, an election that was held before their grip on the party machine had been consolidated would leave them vulnerable following defeat to the Tories.

For example, if the threshold for PLP nominations for leader had not been lowered from 15% to 5%, as they have long hankered for, it’s unlikely any candidate from the hard left could even make it onto the ballot.

The raison d’etre of Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle is to take control of the Labour party as a vehicle for their ideology. An early election could threaten that.

Moderates have also begun to rethink their approach. Their priority is similar to that of the Tory rebels – to stop hard Brexit. Currently, the parliamentary arithmetic means hard Brexit is impossible.

The bulk of the PLP is passionately opposed to tumbling out of the EU on WTO terms with all of the economic chaos that such a policy entails. Whether soft left or traditional right, events of the last week have demonstrated that the best chance of influencing the terms of Brexit will be to keep Theresa May right where she is – a Prime Minister who serves at the legislature’s pleasure.

In this context of shifting Labour sands, the chances of an early election have already begun to diminish, just a week after they rose and MPs started to understand the implications from an early vote.

It is perhaps the ultimate expression of Theresa May’s weakness – not only is she incapable of implementing many of her policies, she is unable even to bring her own administration down at a time of her choosing.

Instead, she is likely to find herself imprisoned, in office but not in power, with an alliance of Tory rebels, Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP as her gaolers.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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6 Responses to “MPs organising to block a 2017 Brexit election and imprison Theresa May in Number 10”

  1. Labour’s Tory-lites should stop their wrecking campaign and get behind Corbyn. Thatcher/Blairism led to defeat in 2010 and 2015.

  2. David Walker says:

    Atul, I don’t know if your theory is correct but, if so, it sounds like you think this would be a good thing.

    The country seems very much in the mood to give May the mandate she requires to implement her own policies. Are you really so tribal that you would celebrate denying voters this wish?

    I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised that you would view democracy as Kryptonite, given how badly it’s worked out for New Labour over recent years.

    Corbyn’s has few friends among Labour MPs. That just made those who supported him (members) want to vote for him even more, as soon as they were given the chance. I would imagine that the same thing would happen with May.

    The last thing Labour needs is for her to be able to paint herself as an anti-establishment figure – a person who represents the British people, but also someone thwarted by unscrupulous politicians.

    You might have a bit of fun, for a few years while the country pointlessly treads water, but she would have the last laugh and it would be a very long one as well.

  3. paul barker says:

    An interesting analysis, but the present gridlock depends on voters being offered a false choice between 2 dinosaur Parties, both extreme , both divided. As the result in Witney demonstrates, there is an alternative & at some point the Media will have to acknowledge that.
    If the Polls were suggesting a hung Parliament, would Labour Centrists change their strategy ?

  4. Tafia says:

    Atul, do you live in some sort of parallel universe?

    Firstly, there has been no ‘climbdown on Brexit scrutiny’ no matter how much you clutch at straws. Al she has done is re-state the same position. Parliament will not get a vote on whether we leave or not. – all they will get a vote on is whether they approe of the terms or not, not whether they accept them.

    And all major infrastructure projects are going, will be going or already have gone through re-confirmation since May took Office – HS2, Hinckley, Heathrow, the new submarines for TRIDENT and more to follow. These reviews were signalled not long after she took Office. They are major major projects involving in total hundreds of billions pf pounds of taxpayers money – it ois right and proper that she reviews them all. Supposing she hadn’t – would you condemn her for that as well?

    And there will be no early election – there can’t be without pover 400 MPs voting for it – do you really think that the PLP would be so stupid? Admittedly they cocked-up a fairly routine beer hall putsch against an unpopular and weal leader, but they aren’t total f**kwits that they’d vote in favour of an early GE and literally get torn to pieces. The tories and in the main loyal. Tory MPs that are pro-EU know full well their consituency parties are all anti-EU and wouldn’t think twice about ditching them prior to an election if they waver. Labour on the other hand have a serious problem – one thord of their core vote base is pro-Leave and will desert them in droves if they perceive Labour as attempting to subvert or delay BREXIT. Plaid have the same problem. Even 10% of the SNP core is pro-Leave. The DUP voter base is almost totally pro-Leave.

    tumbling out of the EU on WTO terms with all of the economic chaos that such a policy entails.
    What complete and utter rubbish. The WTO system is robust, transparent, perfectly straightforward and – most importantly of all, automatically reciprocal. It’s designed that way deliberately to prevent chaos and confusion.

    if the threshold for PLP nominations for leader had not been lowered from 15% to 5%
    And gove it a rest. You loist, attempted a pathetic coup and got totally humiliated despite excluding over another 100,000 cCorbyn voters and by the time of the next GE (which WILL be 2020) we will be out of the |EU, the Labour Party will be a totally different beast than it is now and firmly in the hands of the membership and the unions, and because of boundary changes and constituency reductions, mnost of the current PLP will have had to go through reselection and either convinced their CLP they are pro-Corbyn to the last, or be summarily despatched to the scrap heap. Each and every one learning a valubale lessoon – they aren’t important, they are easily replaceable, they won’t be missed and when the tide changes you change with it or you end up floundering on the beach and eaten by predators.

  5. Dave Roberts says:

    Call me conspiratorial if you wish but couldn’t this be the way in which the fixed parliaments legislation could be bypassed and a snap general election called?

  6. Delta says:

    Yes and they are so terrified of an election aren’t they?

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