Challenge to May shows how weak and shaky the Tories really are

13 Dec 2018
Theresa May is not the first Tory Prime Minister to be challenged or even forced out of office because her party is fundamentally split over Europe. But hopefully she will be the last for a very long time.

This country needs a prolonged period of Labour in office, to put right the damage the Tories have done.

My party really doesn’t care very much who the next leader of the Tories is. Whoever it is what we need is that they rapidly become leader of the Opposition. This ritual Tory blood-letting doesn’t usually end well for them, but Labour can only watch as they decide to form a circular firing squad.

Instead, we are preparing for government, and not simply because of the Brexit issue.  There is a general crisis of British politics, the economy and our key public services. To resolve them all we need a new government, a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

But we need to take one step at a time, even if they are coming at us rapidly. The first issue is to vote down the Brexit deal. May’s deal satisfies no-one because it is a mess which resolves nothing. Notoriously, it includes an article which states issues will be resolved in ‘20XX’, that is sometime never.  The uncertainty this creates is already damaging jobs, living standards and investment in this country. The May deal prolongs it indefinitely.

Once that is done there is still the real risk of us crashing out with no deal, which would be an even bigger blow to our economy. We need new legislation to prevent that.  There is no majority for it in parliament. There is no majority for it in the country either, which is more important. No-one voted to be dramatically poorer in June 2016. But that is what no deal would mean. 

Some have argued that that Labour should put a no confidence vote in the Government. But many of these same people also know that there is currently no majority in parliament for a no confidence vote. We would lose. And the effect would actually be to bolster Theresa May, providing her with a badly-needed win at a time of crisis.

No-one actually disputes this scenario. Instead, the strongest advocates for a confidence vote now simply want to ‘get it out of the way’, lose and move on to something else, where something else is usually the people’s vote.  So-called Tory rebels, who never actually rebel against their government, are in the forefront.

This is bizarre, even from the perspective of the most ardent Remainers.  Stopping a disastrous Brexit should be their priority.  Legislation is needed to stop no deal. And a vote is needed to stop May’s terrible deal. These are the immediate and priority tasks. A people’s vote stays on the table as a possible means to resolve this Tory mess. But Labour is not in the business of pointless grandstanding, or putting votes in order to lose them.

That’s because we have never lost sight of what really matters in all of this. We held a referendum which decided we leave the EU. But people didn’t vote to be poorer, or for high-skilled and well-paid jobs to be axed, or for the crisis in our public services to get worse when we can’t recruit nurses, doctors and others and our tax revenues fall.  We will do everything to prevent that.

Labour stands for millions of jobs. The Tories are arguing over one job. That’s the difference between us.


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