Jeremy Corbyn will not call a vote of no confidence in Theresa May if she loses a crunch Commons vote on giving Parliament more of a say over Brexit, HuffPost has been told.
In a bid to maximise Tory rebel support, the Labour leader has decided he will not trigger further humiliation for the Prime Minister should she suffer the catastrophic defeat on Wednesday, party sources said.
May is facing a dramatic showdown with her own Conservative backbenchers as they bid to support a key amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that gives a “meaningful” role for Parliament over her final deal with Brussels.
The Government has warned that the proposal, led by former Cabinet minister Dominic Grieve, is unacceptable because it would “bind” the hands of ministers in key talks with the EU.
Around 14 Tory rebels are needed and some were spooked by talk by Grieve at the weekend that he was prepared to ‘collapse the Government’ if a no-deal scenario loomed.
But with the vote on a knife-edge, Corbyn is not intending to immediately push the issue to a no confidence vote if May loses.
“This is about Parliament and protecting its role to have a meaningful vote,” a Labour source said. The decision proved the issue was one of national interest, not party interest, they added.
Labour strategists believe that if the ‘meaningful vote’ takes place, either later this year or early next year, its next move would depend on the circumstances at the time.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has said that if MPs vote down May’s Brexit deal, his first preference would be for her to go back to the negotiating table, rather than triggering a confidence vote and possible general election.
Under the Grieve amendment, which was passed with a big majority in the House of Lords on Monday, MPs would be given the right to approve or reject a motion on May’s plans, including any ‘no deal’ exit from the EU.
With a wafer-thin Commons majority that depends on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), only a handful of Tories need to rebel to defeat the Government.
Some Labour MPs from Leave-voting areas may abstain, but the rebels believe they still have a chance to score a landmark victory.
“The numbers are very, very tight,” one Labour source said. Tory whips have made clear to MPs there will be no more concessions.
The chances of a ‘no deal’ outcome appeared to increase on Tuesday as leaked conclusions of next week’s EU summit pointed to a serious impasse on unresolved issues like a ‘hard border’ in Northern Ireland.
Grieve held a private meeting with Brexit Secretary David Davis on Tuesday and throughout the day both rebel Tories and Labour MPs were locked in talks with senior figures in their party as the crunch vote loomed.
Both sides appeared to be standing firm, with No.10 insisting that Grieve’s move would still involve MPs ‘directing’ the Prime Minister and would as a result undermine her negotiating strength in Brussels.
“We cannot accept the amendment on a meaningful vote agreed in the Lords,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.
“Agreeing to amendable motions would allow parliament to direct the Government’s approach to exiting the EU, binding the Prime Minister’s hands and making it harder for the Prime Minister’s hands and making it harder to secure a good deal for the UK.
“It also does not meet the reasonable tests set out last week by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for exiting the European Union and any new amendment must respect the referendum result and cannot undermine the negotiations or undermine the constitutional role of Parliament and Government.”