READ IN FULL: Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn talk no-confidence votes in wake of huge Brexit defeat

Posted On: 
15th January 2019

In the immedate aftermath of the massive Commons defeat on her Brexit deal, Theresa May challenged Jeremy Corbyn to table a vote of no confidence in the Government, and the Labour leader stepped up. Read both statements in full below. 

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Mr Speaker, the House has spoken and the Government will listen. It is clear that the House does not support this deal but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support. Nothing about how or even if it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum parliament decided to hold. And people, particularly EU citizens who have made their home here and UK citizens living in the EU, deserve clarity on these questions as soon as possible. Those whose jobs rely on our trade with the EU need that clarity. So with your permission Mr Speaker, I would like to set out briefly how the Government intends to proceed.

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First, we need to confirm whether the Government still enjoys the confidence of the House. I believe that it does. But given the scale and importance of tonight’s vote, it’s right that others have the chance to test that question if they wish to do so. I can therefore confirm that if the official opposition tables a confidence motion this evening in the form required by the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the Government will make time to debate that motion tomorrow. And if, as happened before Christmas, the official opposition declines to do so we will on this occasion consider making time tomorrow to debate any motion in the form required from the other opposition parties should they put one forward.

Second, if the House confirms its confidence in this government I will then hold meetings with our colleagues, our confidence and supply partner the DUP and senior parliamentarians from across the House to identify what would be required to secure the backing of the House. The Government will approach these meetings in a constructive spirit. But given the urgent need to make progress we must focus on ideas that are genuinely negotiable and have sufficient support in this House.

Third, if these meetings yield such ideas the Government will then explore them with the EU. Mr Speaker,

I want to end by offering two reassurances. The first is to those who fear that the Government’s strategy is to run down the clock to the 29 March. That is not our strategy. I have always believed that the best way forward is to leave in an orderly way with a good deal and have devoted much of the last two years to negotiating such a deal. As you confirmed Mr Speaker, the amendment to the business motion tabled last week by my right honorable and learned friend the member for Beaconsfield is not legally binding but the Government respects the will of the House. We will therefore make a statement about the way forward and table an amdendable motion by Monday.

The second reassurance is to the British people who voted to leave the European Union in the referendum two and a half years ago. I became Prime Minister immediately after that referendum. I believe it’s my duty to deliver on their instruction and I intend to do so. Every day that passes without this issue being resolved means more uncertainty, more bitterness and more rancour. The Government has heard what the House has said tonight but I ask members on all sides of the House to listen to the British people who want this issue settled and to work with the Government to do just that.


Thank you Mr Speaker. The result of tonight’s vote is the greatest defeat for a government since the 1920s in this House. This is a catastrophic defeat for this government.

After two years of failed negotiations, the House of Commons has delivered its verdict on her Brexit deal and that verdict is absolutely decisive.

I hear the words of the Prime Minister but the actions of her government in these past two years speak equally clearly.

She is only attempting to reach out now, to try to keep her failed deal alive after it has been so roundly rejected by parliament on behalf of the people of this country.

Labour had laid out our priorities consistently: no deal must be taken off the table, a permanent customs union must be secured and people's rights and protections must be guaranteed so they don't fall behind.

At every turn the Prime Minister has closed the door on dialogue.

Businesses begged her to negotiate a comprehensive customs union, trade union leaders pressed her for the same thing. They were ignored.

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.

On the most important issue facing us, this government has lost the confidence of this House and this country.

I therefore Mr Speaker, inform you, that I have tabled a motion of no confidence in this government. I am pleased that motion will be debated tomorrow so this House can give its verdict on the sheer incompetence of this government and pass that motion of no confidence in this government.