MIL-OSI UK: May snubs compromise as Labour moves to ‘third phase’ of Brexit policy

Source: Labour List UK

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Just days after the government suffered a historic defeat on its Brexit deal – the largest defeat of any government in modern history, let us not hesitate to repeat – Theresa May is expected to return to parliament with the same plan. In a conference call last night, the Prime Minister reportedly told her cabinet that she doesn’t intent to change course. Instead, she will aim to win enough Tory and DUP support to get her deal through by seeking assurances on the backstop. Sound familiar? Possibly because that’s exactly what she vowed to do over Christmas.

How will she do it? The EU hasn’t, as hoped, changed its mind on the backstop after watching MPs reject the deal – after all, Ireland is still a member, and the backstop was actually May’s demand in the first place, and it only survives as an idea due to her red lines. There are rumours that she’d like to amend the Good Friday Agreement, which is clearly not viable. Another scheme involves a bilateral treaty with Ireland, which the Irish government has already quashed.

Was Jeremy Corbyn right to turn down May’s invite to Brexit talks last week? According to our latest survey, which attracted 5,625 responses, 60% of LabourList readers think he made the right call. It’s clear that the cross-party discussions were indeed a “stunt” and the PM had no intention of changing course until having at least one more go at convincing her party and confidence-and-supply partner. She knows that opting for customs union membership would split the Conservative Party, and why risk being that Tory leader? But, in her statement to the Commons today, May will no doubt place the blame on Corbyn for the failure of cross-party talks. Labour can only hope the public realise she is prioritising party unity above the national interest.

Over the weekend, Labour’s Brexit position developed when Keir Starmer gave a speech at the Fabians conference (read the full text here – note that LL gets a mention – and our key takeaways here). The headlines are that Labour is at the ‘third phase’ of its policy set out at conference, i.e. the alternative Brexit plan or backing a public vote. Again, the leadership won’t be moving swiftly onto the latter now that May has rejected compromise, but will instead wait to see how long her stubborn approach holds.

What’s clear is that Labour considers Article 50 extension “inevitable”, to quote Starmer, and this is important in deciding whether to support Yvette Cooper’s latest amendment. Although the opposition wants to make clear that responsibility for delaying Brexit lies with the government, Labour also wants to block ‘no deal’. Cooper’s move would give MPs a vote on whether to extend Article 50 if no agreement has been reached by the end of February, i.e. stop May running the clock down any further.

In what could become crucial in any future cross-party agreement, Starmer conceded on Marr the next day that “at this stage, any deal probably does require a backstop”. But if May does succeed in getting her ‘Plan B’ through with Tory and DUP votes, it is the Shadow Brexit Secretary’s other admissions that matter. “It’s a commitment to you, our members and our movement. And it is one we will keep,” he said of the key pledge about all options remaining on the table. The idea of another referendum, which has “significant support” among Labour members and some MPs, “has to be an option for Labour”, he added.

While answering audience questions, Starmer described himself as “a fan” of the Brexit citizens’ assembly idea, saying: “We’ve got to bring people back into these discussions, whether it’s through citizens’ assemblies or other means”. These are all largely shifts in tone rather than substance, but many MPs like to point out that Starmer has succeeded in softening the Labour position at every crunch moment. Could his backing for a further “injection of democracy” in the Brexit process break the camel’s back, or ultimately – like the backstop and extending Article 50 – become inevitable?

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Corbyn right to refuse talks with May, say 60% of LabourList readers

Source: Labour List UK

Over 60% of our readers believe that Jeremy Corbyn was right to refuse “substantive” Brexit talks with Theresa May last week, the latest LabourList survey has found.

After the government suffered a historic defeat on its Brexit deal, then survived a no-confidence vote called by the Labour leader, the Prime Minister invited opposition party leaders to engage in talks.

But Corbyn said no “positive” discussions could be had unless she took ‘no deal’ off the table, which May refused to do. Labour MPs were divided on the issue, with some agreeing that talks were pointless without the assurance and others concerned about public reaction.

The results of the weekly LabourList survey, which attracted 5,625 responses, showed 60.3% of readers agreed with the Labour leader’s recent decision on the cross-party talks, while almost 34% said they disagreed with his position.

The poll also found that around 52% of readers believe the Labour Party’s priority should be to stop Brexit. 2,438 respondents, just over 44%, said alternatively that Labour should prioritise securing the best deal.

Below is a detailed breakdown of the questions and readers’ responses.

Was Jeremy Corbyn right to refuse “substantive” talks with Theresa May until she rules out ‘no-deal’ Brexit?

  1. Yes – 60.3% (3,333)
  2. No – 33.9% (1.871)
  3. Don’t know – 5.8% (323)

Other than force a general election, what should be Labour’s top priority?

  1. Try to stop Brexit – 52.1% (2,880)
  2. Secure the best Brexit deal –44.1% (2,438)
  3. Don’t know – 3.8% (209)

Who are your top three shadow cabinet members?

First choice:

  1. Keir Starmer – 2,171
  2. John McDonnell – 1,877
  3. Emily Thornberry – 519

Second choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,244
  2. Keir Starmer – 1,171
  3. Tom Watson – 1,023

Third choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,372
  2. Tom Watson – 855
  3. Keir Starmer – 713
1st 2nd 3rd
Andrew Gwynne 12 23 49
Andy McDonald 2 11 37
Angela Rayner 100 178 258
Barry Gardiner 65 158 211
Christina Rees 2 3 8
Dan Carden 2 15 25
Dawn Butler 9 29 90
Diane Abbott 137 505 482
Emily Thornberry 519 1,244 1,372
John Healey 8 20 48
John McDonnell 1,877 762 629
Jon Ashworth 37 52 120
Jon Trickett 4 11 23
Keir Starmer 2,171 1,171 713
Margaret Greenwood 1 13 20
Nia Griffith 21 74 245
Rebecca Long-Bailey 21 117 165
Richard Burgon 22 72 114
Sue Hayman 19 28 31
Tom Watson 495 1,023 855
Tony Lloyd 3 11 22

The aggregated results show that Keir Starmer, John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry were the most popular Labour frontbenchers among LabourList readers last week, with 4,055, 3,268 and 3,135 votes respectively.

A small number of readers got in touch to say that they did not notice the scroll bar when answering the third survey question. We will therefore aim to run the most popular shadow cabinet members question again this week in a different, clearer format.

The survey was open from 4.30pm on Thursday 17th January until 8pm on Sunday 20th January. Thank you to all 5,625 readers who took part.

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MIL-OSI UK News

MIL-OSI UK: A new Brexit date, but no new Brexit plan

Source: Labour List UK

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We’ve got a new Brexit vote date: 29th January. But there’s no sign of a new Brexit plan from Theresa May, who engaged in cross-party talks yesterday that appeared to be purely performative. Jeremy Corbyn did his best to get some movement going. As discussed in yesterday’s email, the opposition leader has decided to snub substantive Brexit talks until ‘no deal’ is ruled out. In his Hastings speech, he told the Prime Minister to “ditch the red lines and get serious about proposals for the future”. He followed that up with a letter that clarified his position: “Labour is open to meaningful discussions. But… these cannot be on the basis of your existing red lines.” Her response said ruling out ‘no deal’ was an “impossible condition”.

Was Corbyn’s boycott decision the right one? (This question isn’t hypothetical – you can tell us your view in our new survey.) The Labour MPs I spoke to were divided on the issue: some thought it was too nuanced and came across badly to the public (“we’re in primary colours now”); some agreed that the talks were pointless without that no-no-deal assurance (including Corbynsceptics such as Wes Streeting); others undecided (“we’ll see if it pays off”). Quite a few were irritated by Corbyn’s message to Labour MPs in which he urged them to refrain from government talks for now. Most did follow his lead. A few ignored the advice – John Mann, Yvette Cooper, Hillary Benn, Stephen Kinnock and other non-loyalists took a trip to the Cabinet Office – but, like other opposition party leaders, they seemed to find the government unhelpful and uncompromising.

With neither May nor Corbyn yet changing their Brexit position, we’re still at square one: how do we break the deadlock? Another referendum seems logical in some ways – admit our political class has failed, throw it back to the people – but it does risk killing off any idea that our elected representatives are competent enough to run the country, as well as presenting a whole host of other problems. Crucially, neither main party leaders want to do it and there is currently no parliamentary majority for it.

The Guardian today leads with a story that Corbyn would face up to a dozen frontbench resignations if he backed a fresh public vote. Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott might be alright with it, but it’s easy to imagine that Ian Lavery, Barry Gardiner and Jon Trickett, as well as a host of Leave-seat junior shadow ministers including Gloria de Piero, wouldn’t be without protest. Of course, Corbynsceptics (such as Luke Akehurst) are not best pleased about how the story was written up – they say there will also be resignations if he refuses to support the move.

Like everything else with Brexit, there are no easy answers. Tricky, tricky. I’m very interested to hear what you make of it all. Was Corbyn’s call on Brexit talks this week the right one? What should be Labour’s top priority now? And who are your favourite shadow cabinet members? Tell us by completing our new survey. Have a great weekend.

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Corbyn letter to May: Rule out ‘no deal’ and scrap red lines

Source: Labour List UK

Jeremy Corbyn has today written to Theresa May calling on her to rule out ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

In the letter, the Labour leader says he is “open to meaningful discussions”, but makes clear that they cannot take place on the basis of May’s “existing red lines”.

Corbyn argues that “no tweaks or further assurances” will win May’s Brexit deal the approval of MPs.

“I am disappointed that there have already been several briefings in which you continue to rule out a customs union,” he writes.

“A new customs union is part of a solution favoured by most businesses and trade unions, and one that I believe could command a majority of the House of Commons.”

In his Hastings speech on Brexit today, the opposition leader confirmed that his priority – the “first option” on the table mentioned in the conference composite motion – is to support a deal that aligns with Labour’s alternative plan.

Below is the full text of Corbyn’s letter.

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to follow up on my statement in the Commons last night on a point of order.

I wish to reiterate the points I raised at Prime Minister’s Questions and to formally set out the position of the Labour Party.

We are firmly of the opinion that the starting point for any talks about how to break the Brexit deadlock must be that the threat of a disastrous ‘no deal’ outcome is ruled out.

That is the position that Labour set out in our 2017 manifesto, at our 2018 party conference – and that we have consistently adhered to throughout.

I note that it is a position shared by all the opposition parties, including the DUP, and is the expressed will of Parliament. If you are serious about reaching a deal, then ‘no deal’ must be ruled out.

After the unprecedented and unnecessary delay to the meaningful vote last month, entering into talks while the clock continues to run down, and the threat of a chaotic ‘no deal’ increases, would be a reckless leap in the dark.

The Chancellor and the Business Secretary were both open to ruling out ‘no deal’ in the recent conference call with business leaders.

Therefore, on behalf of the Labour Party, I ask you to rule out ‘no deal’ and to immediately end the waste of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money preparing for a ‘no deal’ outcome. The £4.2 billion currently allocated to ‘no deal’ planning could significantly improve many of cash-starved public services on which people rely and could transform the lives of those struggling on Universal Credit.

Labour is open to meaningful discussions. But following the decisive rejection of the government’s deal by MPs on Tuesday, those cannot be on the basis of your existing red lines. It is clear that no tweaks or further assurances are going to win support for the government’s Brexit deal in Parliament.

We have set out an alternative framework for a better deal: based upon a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union; a strong Single Market deal; and guarantees that there can be no race to the bottom on rights and standards. That is the consistent position that Labour has outlined over the past year.

I am disappointed that there have already been several briefings in which you continue to rule out a customs union. A new customs union is part of a solution favoured by most businesses and trade unions, and one that I believe could command a majority of the House of Commons.

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Leader of the Opposition

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MIL-OSI UK: Is Corbyn wrong to refuse Brexit talks until May rules out ‘no deal’?

Source: Labour List UK

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Last night, the government survived Jeremy Corbyn’s no-confidence vote with a majority of 19. With every Conservative MP still holding out hope that their version of Brexit (or lack thereof) has a chance, and the DUP keen to highlight their usefulness in this exact situation, Theresa May didn’t suffer any rebellions. She was also helped by ex-Labour MPs John Woodcock, Ivan Lewis and Fiona Onasanya, who abstained. After the result was announced, the Prime Minister invited the opposition party leaders for Brexit talks – but Corbyn called on her first to rule out ‘no deal’. And this stand-off dominates the news today.

As soon as the PM decided she was safe enough from the threat of a no-confidence vote, after being stubborn and unresponsive at PMQs, then having Michael Gove make personal attacks against the Labour leader during the confidence debate, she apparently extended an olive branch (without a hint of irony). But in calling for cross-party cooperation over the last few weeks, Labour has been consistent in its approach: stop blackmailing us with your no-deal threat, and relax your red lines so that we have something to talk about. As Richard Burgon confirmed this morning, Tory chair Brandon Lewis has told Labour that the government refuses to remove any red lines or rule out ‘no deal’. We are at a standstill.

Corbyn’s team has presented a nuanced argument for its ‘rule out no deal’ demand and the narrative will likely get lost in translation to the wider public, aided by coverage such as the Daily Mail’s “Wrecker Corbyn” splash. And despite supposedly speaking outside No10 last night as the Prime Minister, not a party political figure, May said she was “disappointed” by Corbyn’s decision and even had the cheek to ask others to “put self-interest aside”. So Labour’s no-deal demand as a “starting point” for “substantive talks” will be made to look unreasonable to voters. Why do it?

Well, for one, ruling out ‘no deal’ could lose May her DUP backing and bring down the government. And though keenly aware of the fragility of the confidence-and-supply deal, May does have to act soon. Every option – extending Article 50, conceding on customs union membership, no-deal – risks resignations. She is faced with the same choice as ever: keep the gridlock, or drop hard Brexiteers and scrap some red lines to reach a compromise deal (at which point Labour could win a well-timed no-confidence vote).

More than ever, Labour wants to show that it is ready for an election. After releasing a new party political broadcast last night, Corbyn will be making a speech in the very marginal Tory seat of Hastings this morning. On Amber Rudd’s turf, he is expected to set out Labour’s next steps for Brexit and flesh out his response to May’s talks invitation. We’re unlikely to be surprised by the speech content – no such luck, People’s Vote campaigners – but interest lies in whether Corbyn can convince the country he isn’t contributing to the mess in Westminster.

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: 71 Labour MPs back a People’s Vote – but issues remain unresolved

Source: Labour List UK

84 Labour MPs and MEPs, including shadow housing minister Roberta Blackman-Woods, joined together today to declare their public support for a fresh referendum on the UK’s EU membership. Describing no-deal as a “catastrophe”, the elected figures signed a letter urging the government to seek Article 50 extension and Labour to give people a “final say”.

Although the list of signatories was assumed by many to be the definitive directory of (71) Labour MPs supportive of another public vote, LabourList has found that a total of 88 MPs so far have declared their endorsements. This amounts to around a third of the parliamentary party. The reasons for which 17 MPs who have publicly backed the idea did not sign the letter today are unclear.

It could be that some of the dozen MPs support a ‘people’s vote’, though not the letter. It explicitly contends, for instance, that “renegotiation is not a realistic prospect”, despite it being understood that this is Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred way forward. This statement – as well as increased coverage of their viewpoint, and the possibility of being associated with Corbynsceptics – could explain why just one of the eight frontbenchers who have openly campaigned for another public vote signed the letter.

The letter also states that the public would offer “the option to stay and keep the deal that we have”. But the signatories aren’t all agreed on this issue. Seema Malholtra, who recently announced her support for the People’s Vote campaign in a joint Sunday Times article with Sir Nicholas Soames, confirmed to LabourList that she would like to see an “EEA/CU-based deal” approved by parliament before putting it to the country, along with ‘Remain’.

Her route would require breaking the parliamentary deadlock on Brexit, which goes against the arguments of some who suppose that a ‘people’s vote’ is a solution to the standstill in itself. And if MPs could come together behind a Brexit deal based on European Economic Area or customs union membership, many could be tempted to leave it at that – for now, at least.

Malholtra’s proposal gives rise to one of the questions to which the People’s Campaign hasn’t given a single answer: what would the ballot paper would look like? It has been widely assumed by campaigners that May’s deal would be included as an option for voters to choose in addition to ‘Remain’, as outlined in the letter. However, the crushing defeat of that deal in the Commons this week casts doubt over such a path.

Ultimately, the campaign launch this morning shows that Labour can only make a difference in the People’s Campaign if Corbyn lends his support. This is not only due to the leader’s own reservations, and the private polling done by his office that shows it would be electorally damaging. It is also because there is a significant level of opposition amongst shadow cabinet members and would lead to the resignations of key allies.


Below is the full statement and list of signatories published today.

This is an unprecedented and perilous moment in our history. With this Tory government in chaos and with the jobs and security of our constituents on the line – we strongly support the Labour decision to reject Theresa May’s “deal”.

We were appalled at her anti-democratic moves to prevent parliament having a vote, and to run down the clock by delaying it until mid-January. This was an utterly irresponsible decision, and gambling with the jobs and livelihoods of our constituents.

The Tory government approach has been disastrous since day one. Their plans would lead to more austerity, fewer jobs and less money for our public services. This is not what anyone voted for in 2016.

We represent hugely diverse constituencies from the North to the South, from Wales to Scotland. Many of our constituencies voted to Leave in 2016. We must listen to and respond to the reasons why people did so. But we now face a moment of national crisis, where the facts and the views of many people have changed – and are continuing to change.

It is now clear renegotiation is not a realistic prospect. No deal would be a catastrophe which we must resolutely oppose. The government should seek an extension to Article 50 to provide time for Parliament to find a way forward. Theresa May has failed to bring this country back together. Labour’s conference adopted a clear policy for this situation.

We must try and remove this government from office as soon as possible. But the removal of the government and pushing for a general election may prove impossible, so we must join trade unions, our members and a majority of our constituents by then unequivocally backing the only logical option to help our country move forward: putting the decision back to the people for a final say, in a public vote, with the option to stay and keep the deal that we have.

Defeat of the Tory deal in a public vote would give us all a chance to campaign for the anti-austerity policies and a Labour government that deals with the true causes of the Brexit vote, and a reformed Europe that works for all people.

Signed:

Debbie Abrahams MP
Rushanara Ali MP
Tonia Antoniazzi MP
Luciana Berger MP
Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
Roberta Blackman-Woods MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Karen Buck MP
Chris Bryant MP
Ruth Cadbury MP
Ann Clwyd MP
Ann Coffey MP
Neil Coyle MP
Mary Creagh MP
Alex Cunningham MP
Janet Daby MP
Geraint Davies MP
Stephen Doughty MP
Rosie Duffield MP
Louise Ellman MP
Mike Gapes MP
Kate Green MP
Lillian Greenwood MP
John Grogan MP
Rupa Huq MP
Margaret Hodge MP
Darren Jones MP
Maria Eagle MP
Susan Elan Jones MP
Julie Elliott MP
Graham Jones MP
Liz Kendall MP
Ged Killen MP
Peter Kyle MP
David Lammy MP
Chris Leslie MP
Seema Malhotra MP
Kerry McCarthy MP
Siobhan McDonagh MP
Pat McFadden MP
Conor McGinn MP
Alison McGovern MP
Anna McMorrin MP
Catherine McKinnell MP
Madeleine Moon MP
Stephen Morgan MP
Ian Murray MP
Albert Owen MP
Bridget Phillipson MP
Jess Phillips MP
Ellie Reeves MP
Rachel Reeves MP
Joan Ryan MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Barry Sheerman MP
Gavin Shuker MP
Tulip Siddiq MP
Andy Slaughter MP
Angela C. Smith MP
Owen Smith MP
Jo Stevens MP
Wes Streeting MP
Gareth Thomas MP
Stephen Timms MP
Anna Turley MP
Chuka Umunna MP
Matt Western MP
Martin Whitfield MP
Paul Williams MP
Phil Wilson MP
Daniel Zeichner MP

MEPs

Richard Corbett MEP (Leader of EPLP / Shadow Cabinet)
Derek Vaughan MEP
Seb Dance MEP
Paul Brannen MEP
Catherine Stihler MEP
Wajid Khan MEP
Julie Ward MEP
Clare Moody MEP
John Howarth MEP
Theresa Griffin MEP
Jude Kirton Darling MEP
David Martin MEP
Mary Honeyball MEP

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MIL-OSI UK: WATCH: Corbyn on “burning injustices” at PMQs

Source: Labour List UK

At PMQs this afternoon, Jeremy Corbyn listed the “burning injustices” that Theresa May promised – and failed – to tackle.

The Labour leader argued that instead of solving the problems, the Prime Minister had “made them worse”.

“More homelessness, more children in poverty, more older people without care, longer waits at A&E, fewer nurses, rising crime, less safe streets, cuts to children’s education.”

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MIL-OSI UK: PMQs: May’s “nothing has changed” approach frustrates MPs

Source: Labour List UK

MPs looked exhausted during Prime Minister’s Questions today, and it’s not just due to their late-night Brexit debates. Theresa May took her signature style of not answering a single question to its extreme this afternoon, as she refused to answer any of Jeremy Corbyn’s incredibly pertinent queries. They are angry, too. Because what she did reveal told the Commons that, despite suffering “the largest ever defeat for a government in the history of our democracy” (as the Labour leader said at kick-off) last night, she has no plans to change course on Brexit.

Corbyn: “Her spokesperson suggested the government had ruled out any form of customs union with the European Union as part of a reaching out exercise. Can the Prime Minister confirm that’s the case?”

May gives no clear answer, but says the 2016 referendum result means “opening up new opportunities to trade with the rest of the world”.

Corbyn: “I understand the Business Secretary told business leaders on a conference call last night we can’t have no deal for all the reasons you’ve set out. Can the Prime Minister now reassure the House, businesses and the country, and confirm that is indeed the government’s position, that we can’t have no deal?”

May rightly asserts that the Commons must pass a deal to avoid no-deal, but refuses to acknowledge that hers… hasn’t passed. Really, really hasn’t passed.

The rest of PMQs proceeded as if nothing had happened at all this week, with both main leaders appealing to their own backbenches. Corbyn delivered probing questions on poverty, while May brought up antisemitism within Labour. The Prime Minister concluded that the opposition leader would threaten national security, weaken the economy, and so forth, we’ve heard it all hundreds of times before.

May is refusing to speak to Corbyn directly in order to reach a compromise deal – and her red lines haven’t changed. “If she rings anyone on that basis then it’ll be a very short phone call,” Hilary Benn tweeted. So there is no hope for the talks between No10 and the “senior parliamentarians” with whom she is willing to engage, let alone the problems presented by the staggering arrogance of ignoring opposition party leaders. This ‘Conservative Party first’ approach made sense during PMQs, ahead of the confidence vote taking place at 7pm today, but this attitude will lead to absolute gridlock and no-deal Brexit if it continues.

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MIL-OSI UK: May’s deal defeated, Corbyn’s confidence motion set to fail. What next?

Source: Labour List UK

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Theresa May suffered the worst defeat of any government in history last night. That’s no exaggeration. A majority of 230 MPs voted against her Brexit deal – bigger than anyone was expecting – with 248 Labour MPs, 118 Tories and all other parties opposed. Only three Labour MPs rebelled to vote for May’s deal – Ian Austin, Kevin Barron, John Mann – plus Frank Field, now sitting as an Independent, whereas 63% of Tory backbenchers voted against the government. After the meaningful vote, Jeremy Corbyn told MPs he had tabled a motion of no confidence in the government, which will be debated today and voted on at 7pm.

What has actually changed? Although the Prime Minister indicated that she would reach across the Commons to hold cross-party talks with a “constructive spirit” when speaking at the despatch box, the reality is far less encouraging. Her spokesman made clear last night that she would not seek talks with Corbyn, but “senior parliamentarians” only, and this was confirmed by Andrea Leadsom on Today this morning. This stance could dissipate after the confidence vote tonight, though it does align with May’s extraordinarily stubborn approach and her persistence in prioritising the Conservative Party over the country.

As expected then, May’s ‘Plan B’ will very closely resemble ‘Plan A’ – despite a staggering number of parliamentarians having just rejected that very deal. When it comes to the government, ‘nothing has changed’. And for Labour? The steps set out in its conference policy will be followed, though not in the way many party activists hope. John McDonnell says there’s a “febrile atmosphere” in Westminster and “anything could happen”, but the DUP and Tories will support the government today – which is laughable, of course. So once it is clear an election cannot be forced, will Corbyn back the People’s Vote campaign? Don’t bet on it.

“Motions of confidence can happen more than once,” the leader’s spokesman said last night. Plus, a fresh referendum isn’t the only option on that notorious table. Asked what the other options were, the spokesman replied: “The first is the alternative plan that we have laid out and that we believe can command a majority across the Commons, even without a general election… All options on the table means there is no hierarchy but this is our policy.” See what I mean? There are situations in which Labour could win a confidence vote: if a deal including the backstop passes, or if MPs find themselves staring off the no-deal cliff edge. The leadership doesn’t want to jump the gun.

The questions to ask now: How many MPs will go back on their votes and ultimately support May’s deal? If her Plan B fails, will May compromise on customs union membership? Or can she hold out for longer, and continue to threaten MPs with no deal/no Brexit? Will the Commons extend Article 50, and does this eventually mean another public vote? The answers are unknowable at this stage, but the next few sitting days in parliament promise to be exciting and decisive.

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Corbyn tables confidence motion as May’s deal suffers historic defeat

Source: Labour List UK

Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence in the government after Theresa May’s deal was defeated by a huge 230 vote majority tonight.

Labour’s confidence motion will be debated and voted on tomorrow, but the government will likely survive as Tory and DUP MPs have pledged to support it despite having decisively voted down its Brexit deal.

248 Labour MPs, 118 Tories and all the DUP representatives voted against May’s deal. ‪Only three Labour MPs voted for May’s deal – Ian Austin, Kevin Barron, John Mann – plus Frank Field, who now sits as an Independent.

Both Jim Fitzpatrick, who said he was minded to vote for May’s deal last week, and Caroline Flint, who hadn’t confirmed either way, helped to defeat the deal. Lisa Nandy, Gareth Snell, Kate Hoey and other possible Labour rebels had already promised to follow the Labour whip tonight.

Speaking in the Commons after the vote, Jeremy Corbyn described the defeat as “catastrophic”. He said: “After two years of failed negotiations, the House of Commons has delivered its verdict on her Brexit deal and that verdict is absolutely decisive.”

The Labour leader added: “In the last two years, she has only had one priority: the Conservative Party. Her governing principle of delay and denial has reached the end of the line. She cannot seriously believe that after two years of failure, she is capable of negotiating a good deal for the people of this country.”

Although Corbyn has already called on the Prime Minister to renegotiate her deal and expressed his preference for one that includes customs union membership, May’s spokesperson did not indicate that such compromises would be made.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would consult “senior parliamentarians”, not the opposition leader, on a deal based on the same principles of taking control of “money, borders, laws” with “an independent trade policy”.

Following the likely outcome of the confidence vote tomorrow, Corbyn will face pressure from Labour MPs and activists to back a fresh EU referendum. However, his spokesperson made clear that there are “other options on the table”.

Asked what were the other options, the spokesperson replied: ‪“The first is the alternative plan that we have laid out and that we believe can command a majority across the commons, even without a general election.”‬

He added: ‪“All options on the table means there is no hierarchy of options but this is our policy.”‬ On the possibility of tabling multiple motions of no confidence in the government, the spokesperson said: “‪Motions of no confidence can happen more than once.”‬

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