PM Confidence vote – open thread

I’m going to call it now. Theresa May is going to win and win big tonight. That is not going to mean that all is peace, harmony and love in the Conservative Party. Today’s extraordinary scene between James Cleverly and Andrew Budgen showed the toxicity of the atmosphere.

Even if Theresa May was going to limp home, winning by one vote, she would stay on. Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t even have the confidence of half of his MPs and he manages it. I just hope that the Tory Remainers have extracted some concessions – maybe even a commitment to a People’s Vote – in return for their support. A convincing win would mean that she didn’t have to pander to the ERG anymore and could seek to build bridges across the House. If she’s told Tory MPs tonight that she isn’t going to contest the 2022 election and she can’t be challenged, then she has nothing to lose by going for a much softer Brexit, perhaps EEA, than she had envisaged. Whether she will take that course, because she’s not known for her flexibility, remains to be seen. I really don’t get why on earth the 1922 Committee thinks it’s going to take them an hour to count around 300 votes but we shall be around till the result is declared.

While you’re waiting, why not read my piece comparing this one with when Thatcher faced the challenge that ended her premiership in 1990.

One thing that has particularly annoyed me is that the Tories have restored the whip to two suspended MPs to enable them to take part in the ballot. One, Andrew Griffiths, has said that he is backing her. The other, Charlie Elphicke, has made no comment about how he is voting.

BBC News just showed a clip of an interview with Michael Heseltine, who of course was the initially successful challenger to Margaret Thatcher. I’d have liked to have heard more about his memories of that time. On May, he said that she may well win tonight, but her problems would not go away as she simply can’t command a majority in the House of Commons when it comes to her deal.

Back in 1990, I was sitting on the edge of my seat watching the BBC News specials in the days before 24 hour rolling news coverage. Mrs Thatcher was at an EU summit and BBC reporter John Sergeant was standing outside the building and she came out to talk to him and he had no idea she was there. On that vote, she won, but not by enough. Although she initially said she was going to fight on, she was gone within 48 hours. Her resignation was announced on the Thursday morning and she then had to go and do PMQs on the afternoon. Back in the day, PMQs was 15 minutes on a Tuesday and 15 minutes on a Thursday.

8:55: How long does it take to sort 300 bits of paper into two piles and count them, for goodness sake?

We’re there: What a diverse bunch the 1922 committee are.

Theresa May wins

No numbers yet.

Stop with the cheering for goodness sake.

200 – 117 100% turnout.

Jacob Rees-Mogg there with Andrew Neil already saying May should resign. Clearly the will of Conservative MPs doesn’t matter.

Has there ever been anything more hypocritical than that?  I thought you were bound by a vote forever. Will of the Conservative MPs, etc etc

I have to say I am surprised that the number voting against her was so big.

Some might think this gives her more leverage with the EU as she’ll be able to show them that she is in trouble, but in reality there is nowhere for them to go in terms of the Irish border.

Does this mean that at least 117 Tory MPs would vote against the Brexit deal? Virtually all the Remainers who would also have voted against it voted for her today.

If that is the case, then the only way to avoid No Deal is a People’s Vote – so we’re maybe more likely to get that as a result of tonight’s vote. But that depends on Labour doing the right thing.

Vince says that the only way out of this for May is a People’s Vote:

Having seen the Conservative backbenches will not support her deal the Prime Minister must change course.

Her deal is doomed to defeat in the Commons, so she should show real leadership by putting this question back to the public in a People’s Vote.

The EU is clear that there is no more negotiating to do, so it’s this deal or No Brexit. That is the choice on which every voter should now have a final say – and Liberal Democrats will campaign vigorously for the UK to remain a full member of the EU.

Comment in from Welsh Lib Dem Jane Dodds:

Theresa May has survived the no confidence vote, but this is hardly a glorious moment for her and her Premiership. The fact Theresa May even had to face this vote speaks volumes about how even her own MPs feel she has mismanaged Brexit.

However, this victory also presents an opportunity for Theresa May. Now she cannot face another confidence vote for at least 12 months, Theresa May should use this opportunity to do what is in the national interest and call a People’s Vote. In doing so, she would have the support of MPs from across the House.

The Prime Minister may have survived this confidence vote, but this doesn’t change the fact there is no majority for her deal in Parliament and the EU is unwilling to renegotiate. The only solution to this Brexit crisis is to give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit.

I suppose the one take-home for May is that she has a higher proportion of her MPs with confidence in her than Jeremy Corbyn has – but she has more than half of those who voted for her on her payroll.

A wee bit of advice from Guy Verhofstadt


Feel free to chip in with comments.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • I don’t understand why anyone would want the job at this precise moment as I posted in the previous thread – just wait a short while especially if you are on the Remain side.

    But… I reckon there will be at least 100 votes against her as that is roughly the ERG vote plus some hangers-on.

    She will still have to reckon with ERG as to get a deal through the Commons she will need their votes – unless she can get a sizeable chunk of Labour MPs which she won’t – as a) for party political reasons and b) any deal to appeal to enough if that were possible would loose her a large chunk of Tory MPs !!!

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Dec '18 - 8:14pm

    I hope not, Michael. I don’t often do this, but I have a small sum of money on 50-99 votes against her.

  • I am not an expert, Caron, on the exact number of ERG – buzzfeed put it at 70 in February and that excluded people then in the cabinet – BoJo, Davis etc. Conservativehome early in the day thought it would be over 100 against her – but we will see very soon…!!!!

    I guess those who want to push her towards a harder brexit will vote against her and Brexiteers might see it as their best time to win the leadership as well.

  • Bernard Aris 12th Dec '18 - 8:39pm

    I have the ideal solution for everyone who is sick to the back teeth hearing the argument that “17 million voters who voted Leave should be respected”.

    My solution: a pampering holliday for all 17 million of them.

    It just so happens that right across the channel, there is another group of exactly 17 million people, living under what Brexiteers would call 60 years (since 1958) of tyrannical, unbearable over-centralised Eurocratic dictatorship, whch they themselves even helped to install and expand over those 60 years. Since both groups are of exactly equal size, it won’t be anny trouble replacing the one with the other.

    Why not liberate those poor 17 million continentals from that yoke and bring them to England, and send those 17 million Brexit voters over to the continent.

    The advantages for the Brexiteers: they can install a wholly new parliament not dominated by big parties made up of feuding narcisists like Corbyn; the pubs have all kinds of beer in stock including a variety of English, British and Irish ones; waiting times at A&E in hospitals are half an hour maximum; and plenty of former NHS expat staff work there again.

    And those 17 million continentals all talk English, even the toddlers, and love the British, so they will fit in really nicely in British society; no problems on that score. You only have to explain the rules of cricket to them; that’s all; but that is an optional thing.

    The name of that mysterious continental tribe?

    The Dutch.

  • @Bernard Aris

    We could then legalise cannabis and all chill out a bit – which seems to be what we are lacking 🙂 !

  • David Warren 12th Dec '18 - 9:04pm

    Terrible result for Theresa May.

    Over a third of your own parliamentary party voting against you in a confidence vote means it’s time for you to go.

  • 200 v 117

    Conservativehome rated it in advance:

    Problematic May win

    For May: 200

    Against May: 117

    Once the opposition to May climbs above a third of the electorate, it becomes harder to assert legitimacy.

  • At 2pm today I told my wife and a chap who came to do electrical repairs that TM would have a majority of 85. I was wrong – by 2. I am not a betting person! Anyway it’s still a sideshow.

  • Bernard Aris 12th Dec '18 - 9:25pm

    @ Joseph Bourke

    Dear Joseph,
    small nations like us Dutch and the Swiss (and the bi-, if not tri-lingual Belgians: Dutch, French, and an Eastern fringe of German-speakers) have always been a welcoming environment where English-speakers from everywhere (UK, Ireland, Commonwealth, US, South Africa) could and did fit in really easy. I know plenty of Brits and even some West Indians (Trinidad to be exact) living in The Hague. And the British retirees on the Spanish coast have also settled in just nicely (Spain has its own NHS, coincidentally).

    The Dutch parliament in the preparatory debate for the Brexit summit tomorrow, just this afternoon, overwhelmingly adopted a motion from us at D66, tot make prime minister Mark Rutte remind everybody (the other 26 EU member states and the present-day Boadicea, Theresa May) tomorrow at the EU summit very explicitly that even the European Court said that London can retract the Article 50 letter and remain in the EU, with Thatchers rebate and all existing privileges; without any problem. No Dutch party will try to infringe on the present British membership position.

    7 of the 13 parties in the Dutch parliament, amongst which all the main ones, have underwritten that D66 motion; and Mark Rutte has already said many times we want the British to remain. Only the populists of Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet steadfastly refused to support that motion.

  • Ground-hog day no further forward. The Tories need to return to school and discover the meaning of two words, insanity and no. In the case of insanity it is
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    and when the EU say NO it means
    no:not so —used to express negation, dissent, denial, or refusal for example no, I’m not going.

    Unfortunately they appear to be happy to remain in the chronically hard of learning class and at the bottom of that.

  • “Win big”

  • John Marriott 13th Dec '18 - 9:27am

    “17 million people voted to leave the EU”. What’s the adult population of the UK? A majority? You do the maths.

  • Is it not time we thought about the rest of Europe? The U.K. has been the most obstructive country in Europe. This of course has been because we have been moving to the right since 1951. The present absolute determination in the U.K. not to ever seriously discuss issues must make people in the rest of Europe whether they are missing something in translation – this is reaction of most people I meet here and there is a theory that we all speak the same language.
    So my solution? We campaign for the Singapore solution. London and bits of the Home Counties can be the Singapore. The rest of U.K. can be the Malaya and Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly can vote where to go. As can can the Isle of Man, the channel Isles and Gibraltar. Oh and British Dependent Territories. Our seat on the Security Council can be sold to the highest bidder. We can set up borders around new Singapore and use technology to make it friction free. Then we sell the whole setup to European companies and give them lots of money – of course we take the risk. But we know how to do that as we have a lot of experience doing it with our utilities.

  • Innocent Bystander 13th Dec '18 - 10:25am

    The problem native English speakers have is that there is only one lingual franca and they already speak it. So which should be their second language ?
    I am certain that the superficial thinkers would immediately reply (without thinking) – Any!!
    But engage brain. There is still only one lingual franca. Should I learn Finnish, for example? I’ve only been once and may never go again. If I was Finnish it is an easy call. Learn English, you will use it everywhere. All right then, should I learn French? Been there lots but not recently and have never been to Quebec so when would I get to use French?
    It isn’t that the English are fundamentally lazy at learning another language and they do when they need one for specific reasons but there is no value in learning another language that you can not regularly use, practice and remain current in. Non English speakers don’t have that problem. They just learn the one universal language and use it all the time. And that, of course, is English.

  • Nonconformistradical 13th Dec '18 - 10:47am

    On the subject of lingua franca – a very long time ago I was present at a LibDem meeting where the guest speaker, the late Baroness Nancy Seear talked about Germans selling in English but buying in German. As I recall, around that time the UK wasn’t doing particularly well at selling in Germany…..

  • Yeovil Yokel 13th Dec '18 - 7:51pm

    As a Conservative MP, did Speaker John Bercow have a vote on Wednesday evening?

  • @Yeovil Yokel: As Commons Speaker, John Bercow does not currently sit as a Conservative MP, so was not amongst the 317 who had a vote – although this total did, controversially, include two MPs who previously had the Tory Whip withdrawn for (alleged) misconduct.

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