There is no clear way out for May, and only one solution for the country - she has got to go
All eyes are on this evening's no confidence vote. Whether May can win or not, is anybody's guess, but the numbers are looking to be in her favour. Tory MPs have a choice between chaos or more chaos, so we will see.
We are now in uncharted political territory. But one thing seems certain: May's days are numbered.
Delaying the vote on her Brexit deal is just the most recent humiliating u-turn of a Prime Minister who has now lied about her intentions too many times to count. This complete contempt of Parliament has made her even more unpopular than she already was.
If she wins this vote this evening, she will then return to the EU, attempting to attain 'clarifications' for her deal. She is not going to get much out of the EU on this., and it is unlikely that she will get what will be pretty much the same deal as was going to lose on Monday, through parliament.
That's if we get that far. If the vote is close she may resign, or Tory MPs who can't countenance her deal passing could see their only option as joining the opposition parties in a vote of no confidence in Parliament. The DUP, despite indicating that they wouldn't vote with Labour on this, might see there as being no other option of avoiding the backstop.
If she makes it to January, but loses the vote, the pressure on her to resign will be huge. She will have exhausted all options, and a no deal or second referendum will look more likely, both of which many Tories will not want to happen.
If she was somehow to survive this, her only real option would be to work across parliament to secure a deal that had support across the house. But as we have seen, it's very unclear what that could be. And that's if the EU allow her to further negotiate anyway.
Even if despite all of this she managed to get Brexit through, Tory MPs don't want her to fight another election, and so she would likely resign following us leaving the EU. So the likelihood of May no longer being Prime Minister in a few months time is very high.
With all this in mind, the Labour leadership is right to be pushing for a general election. This is the only real solution to the current impasse, as it is clear no deal can get through Parliament with the current make-up of the house, and that the deal currently negotiated does not have support across the country.
They should continue to resist the calls for a second referendum, which is unlikely to resolve the situation because the country is still divided on the issue. It would (rightly) be perceived by many people as an attempt to overturn a decision the elites didn't like and so cause massive resentment. But also as things stand it won't have an option on it that people can vote for that would address the widespread feelings of anger against inequality, powerlessness and being ignored that largely drove the Brexit vote in the first place. A general election has the chance of not just refocussing politics on our real social problems, but offering a Brexit deal that will make it easier not harder to address them.
But this won't happen without a significant amount of pressure. The centre cannot hold, but it will hold out for as long as it can. The inspiring events in France show how mass movements can transform politics in a matter of a few weeks. This is one answer to those who say an election is technically difficult to achieve. Politics can overcome process. In the next few weeks, we need to be doing everything we can to generate pressure to bring down the government and make a general election happen.
Cameron Panting was formerly National Organiser for Counterfire. He is active within the People's Assembly and Stop The War.
More articles from this author
- The government keeps moving their own goalposts - CounterBlast 1 May
- Excising its credibility: Labour’s dilemma over top rate tax - weekly briefing
- North West London come out in voice against police violence in Harlesden and racism in wider society
- May Days review - a fitting tribute to Grenfell and a society fighting back
- Local elections: for the left, standing still is losing ground
- Lecturers' strike day two: ‘The things we have, we fought for on cold days like these’
- 'They think we are weak - they could not be more wrong': Goldsmiths kicks off against pension cuts