Labour will wait until Brexit deal defeated for government no-confidence vote, Shadow Cabinet member says

Posted On: 
18th December 2018

Labour will not table a no-confidence motion in the Government until Theresa May's Brexit deal collapses, a Shadow Cabinet member has said.

John Healey suggested the party would hold back on its threat to call a vote of no-confidence in the Government

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey suggested his party would hold off trying to topple the Government until it was "clear to the country" the Conservatives had failed on Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn last night tabled a motion of no-confidence in Theresa May after she announced that MPs would not get to vote on her Brexit deal until the New Year.

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But unlike a no-confidence motion in the Government, it is non-binding and cannot remove the Prime Minister from office or trigger the process that could lead to a general election.

His attempt was branded a “silly stunt” by Downing Street, who refused to allow parliamentary time for it.

Labour’s chief whip Nick Brown reportedly told MPs last night the party would table a no-confidence motion in the Government if Mr Corbyn's bid was blocked.

But speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Healey rowed back from suggestions that such a vote would be called immediately.

“It is still a question of when, not if, we move to confront the Government with a full vote of confidence,” he said.

“And the answer is when it is clear to the country the Government has failed decisively.

"For now, for this week, for today our no confidence motion is directed at Theresa May for her personal failure over two years to get negotiate a deal that not just Labour and the other parties, but many of her own MPs are saying fails to measure up to what Britain needs.”

He added: "It is doing the job of opposition this week and holding the Prime Minister in particular, and the Government, to account."

The DUP - which props up the minority Tory government - and hardcore pro-Brexit Tories who tried to topple Mrs May last week have said they would back the Government if the Labour motion comes to a vote.

Labour has argued it does not want to table a vote of no-confidence in the Government unless it is sure it can win - but critics argue the party wants to avoid having to shift its Brexit policy.

A motion at its party conference in September agreed that the party could support a second EU referendum if it fails to secure a general election.


Meanwhile, opposition parties tabled an amendment to the Labour motion that would bump it up to a full confidence vote, as they laid into Mr Corbyn over his failure to try to bring down the Government.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable said: “It’s clear that Jeremy Corbyn is using every subterfuge possible to avoid the responsibility of pushing a real motion of no confidence in the Government.

“He seems more interested in installing a new Tory Prime Minister in Downing Street than in the General Election he keeps talking about.”

And SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford scoffed: “Labour's motion was a gimmick - it has been left to the real opposition to step in and strengthen it to hold the whole UK government to account.”