Theresa May said on Thursday evening that she would hang on as prime minister and seek to pilot her Brexit deal through parliament.
But it is already looking dead in the water.
This should be the moment for Labour and the trade unions to call for protests everywhere demanding May out, Tories out and a general election now.
But that didn’t happen in the Commons on Thursday.
Instead disgracefully some Labour MPs simply praised the neoliberal and racist EU and many of them called for a “People's Vote”—effectively a second referendum. They included Barry Sheerman, Luciana Berger, David Lammy, Peter Kyle, Tonia Anotoniazzi and Mary Creagh.
Even Jeremy Corbyn did not demand a general election and merely ended his comments by saying, “The government must now withdraw this half-baked deal”.
This is not good enough. Every day the Tories stay they are wrecking public services, imposing Universal Credit, cutting wages and ramping up racism.
They are determined to hang on until the scheduled 2022 general election.
No chance should be missed to drive out the government.
May is beset by resignations, threats of a vote of no confidence, and the overwhelming evidence that not enough MPs back her deal for it to pass.
By Thursday evening seven Tories had resigned from May’s government.
They were Dominic Raab, Brexit secretary, Esther McVey, work and pensions secretary, Shailesh Vara, junior minister in the Northern Ireland office, Suella Braverman, junior Brexit minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, parliamentary aide, Ranil Jayawardena, parliamentary aide, Rehman Chishti, vice chair of the Conservative party.
Raab lasted just five months as Brexit secretary, after replacing David Davis—who quit over May’s Brexit proposals earlier this year.
On Thursday it was reported Michael Gove was offered the Brexit secretary job. But it was said he would take it only if he could renegotiate May’s deal and the planned 25 November EU summit was scrapped.
In what may be an even more threatening move to May, Jacob Rees-Mogg said he has submitted a letter calling for a vote of no confidence.
Some MPs believe that Graham Brady, chair of the Tory backbenchers’ 1922 Committee, has already received the 48 letters required to trigger a vote.
If that were to happen, a no confidence vote would take place soon—possibly as early as next week.
It’s not certain that May would lose. All she needs is a majority in a yes/no confidence vote, and there is no agreement among the Tories on her successor.
But any large vote against her would leave May with punctured authority.
Hardly anyone believes there is a chance for May’s deal to pass through the Commons. Around 80 Tory MPs are expected not to back it, and the bigots of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are clear they are against it.
The DUP’s Jim Shannon said, “As Rudyard Kipling said, ‘Before an Empire’s eyes/The traitor claims his price./What need of further lies?/We are the sacrifice.’
“Prime Minister, we will not be your sacrifice. We will not agree to give backstop control to the EU or to the Republic of Ireland over Northern Ireland—never.”
Socialists have no truck with such criticism of the deal.
We are against May’s deal because it increases migration restrictions, enhances the rules that limit nationalisation and maintains the EU rules that impose austerity. It does not offer a vote across the whole of Ireland on a united Ireland, which would solve the Irish question.
May’s only hope is that if she hangs on until the Commons vote takes place in mid-December. Then she can twist arms and use big business and the slump in the pound and stock markets to put on the pressure.
Support for May came from Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the bosses’ CBI organisation. He said, “No one should delude themselves—if the withdrawal agreement failing means crashing out of the EU without a deal, it would be a disaster.
“No one wants a gridlocked Dover, a panicking financial system, medicine or rising food prices.”
As the government implodes there need to be working class protests to make the most of the crisis. A good place to start is at the anti-racist demonstration in London this Saturday.