The government's defeat in Parliament might signal the end of Theresa May's much-pained leadership.
Another day, another Brexit development placing Prime Minister Theresa May right by the cliff’s edge.
MPs were set to approve a motion this afternoon which would force the government to publish its full Brexit legal advice.
The motion – which would set an extraordinary precedent in modern times – was tabled by the Labour Party and supported by the Green Party, the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats.
Half-way through the day, the government’s government partner, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) argued it too would stand with the motion.
We will be voting today for the publication of the legal advice on Brexit and the backstop.
— Nigel Dodds (@NigelDoddsDUP) November 13, 2018
Meanwhile the European Research Group (aka ERG) lead by hardcore Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg, had a soft amendment tabled, which was ultimately not selected for debate – a move that will see the Eurosceptics in all likeliness support the motion.
The government itself said it would not vote against it (it would lack the votes to win, anyway), in spite of de facto Deputy Prime Minister, David Lidington, originally complaining that the move could require the release of thousands of documents.
But what could the outcomes of this publication be?
The publication of such wealth of information could at the very least mean a spanner in the works for a Cabinet already burdened with “difficult” final negotiations with Brussels.
May is expected to come out with an 11th hour final deal, as both sides of the Channel try to meet the deadline to hold a November summit. But even Number 10 admitted the time was short and the task nearly impossible.
If no agreement is reached by tomorrow evening the signing of the Brexit deal is once again pushed into a later date – at this stage likely to be on the 13 or 14 of December.
With confidence in the PM and in the final Brexit at its lowest talks of a general election have been swirling around Westminster.
A recent Survnation poll gave Labour a narrow win with 40% of the vote, to just 39% to May’s Conservatives. And a Brexit themed snap election would certainly throw a lot more of those numbers in the air.
Westminster voting intention:
LAB: 40% (+1)
CON: 39% (-1)
LDEM: 8% (+1)
UKIP: 3% (-3)
via @Survation, 20 Oct – 02 Nov
Chgs. w/ 10 Oct
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) November 10, 2018
But would the DUP throw the government under bus? Would the ERG rather see the Tories lose power than accept a soft and tender Brexit?
The next 24 hours will tell.
But if today’s motion vote is anything to go by, we might well see Christmas cancelled for the sake of door-knocking.
Joana Ramiro is a reporter for Left Foot Forward. You can follow her on Twitter for all sorts of rants here.
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