The British government will not allow lawmakers to vote on a symbolic motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May, forcing the opposition to decide whether it will now try to topple her entire administration.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for the vote of no confidence in May after she delayed Parliament’s vote on her Brexit deal until January.
May announced that she would reschedule the vote for the week of January 14 – less than 80 days before Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29.
It was originally set to take place on December 11, but May delayed the vote after it became clear she would lose by a significant margin.
Corbyn said it was “unacceptable” to make members of Parliament wait until January.
“The Prime Minister has obdurately refused to ensure a vote took place on the date she agreed, she refuses to allow a vote to take place this week and is now, I assume, thinking the vote will be on January 14 – almost a month away,” Corbyn told the Commons.
He said the motion was based on the Prime Minister’s “failure to allow the House of Commons to have a meaningful vote straight away on the Withdrawal Agreement and framework for future relationships between the UK and European Union.”
The motion – directed at May as opposed to the Government as a whole – would not force the administration to step down if Parliament approved it. But it would increase pressure on the Prime Minister.
However a Downing Street official said later on Monday that it would not allocate parliamentary time for the vote. As the motion was non-binding, the decision of whether to allow it to go ahead was up to the government. A no-confidence vote against the entire government, on the other hand, would have to be scheduled as it would be binding and could trigger a general election if lost.
Ahead of the move, Labour said “the government must now make time to debate this – if they don’t it’s clear they believe she does not retain confidence of (the) House of Commons.”
Corbyn: May is leading UK into a national crisis
Corbyn accused May on Monday of leading the UK into a “national crisis” as she ignored pleas to abandon her widely criticized Brexit deal.
“I know this is not everyone’s perfect deal. It is a compromise,” May said. “But if we let the perfect be the enemy of the good, we risk leaving the EU with no deal.”
Corbyn accused the Prime Minister of “cynically running down the clock” until the UK leaves the EU by offering lawmakers “her deal or no deal.” He added that May had been the architect of leading the UK into a “national crisis.”
“A responsible prime minister would, for the good of this country, have put the deal before the House this week, so we can move on from this Government’s disastrous negotiations,” he told the House of Commons.
“It’s clear the Prime Minister has failed to renegotiate her deal, failed to get any meaningful reassurances – there is no excuse for any more dither or delay.”
As pressure for a new vote grew inside and outside a bitterly divided Westminster, May dismissed calls to change course and firmly rejected holding a second Brexit referendum. She said doing so would be a betrayal of the British people.
“Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum, another vote, which would do irreparable damage to our politics. Because it would say to millions who trusted in our democracy that our democracy does not deliver,” she told the Commons.
May also ignored calls from MPs to hold the parliamentary vote sooner, and described claims that a better Brexit agreement could be reached as “fiction.”
“I know there are a range of very strongly held personal views on this issue across the House and I respect all of them,” May said.
“But expressing our personal views is not what we are here to do. We asked the British people to take this decision.”
The Prime Minister abruptly called off a vote on her Brexit plan last week after it became clear it would be defeated. She was then forced to fend off a leadership challenge from rebellious Tory MPs. The challenge failed, but left her weakened politically.
At a European Union summit in Brussels, May failed to secure guarantees that would satisfy her Brexit critics.