A vote of no confidence in Theresa May’s government has been tabled by the SNP and other Westminster oppositions in a move with the power to trigger a general election.
It comes after the prime minister confirmed the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal would be delayed until after Christmas and Jeremy Corbyn demanded MPs vote on May’s leadership.
The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens made the decision to table the vote following a meeting on Tuesday evening.
It piles pressure on both the PM and Corbyn, as questions swirl over whether the Labour leader had dithered over his party’s ambition to oust the Tory administration.
HuffPost UK understands ministers are only compelled to give time to motions tabled in the name of the leader of the opposition – Corbyn – meaning ministers could simply ignore the bid.
It is also unlikely Tory Brexiteers and the DUP would throw their weight behind the cross-party motion, but should it get support, a general election could be forced.
May last week survived a bid to get rid of her by her own backbenchers and has insisted that her deal is the only route through the Brexit turmoil.
The Labour Party has called the SNP-led motion “parliamentary tactics”.
Corbyn has been under increasingly pressure to put demand a vote of no confidence in the government under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which, rather than his non-binding motion to oust May, would have legal force
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford met Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts and Green MP Caroline Lucas on Tuesday and they took a joint decision to put forward a vote of no confidence in the names of the opposition leaders.
Blackford said: “Opposition leaders have taken the decision to table a vote of no confidence in the UK government under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – something Jeremy Corbyn has failed to do
“Labour has failed to hold the UK government to account over their shambolic Brexit negotiations. Their motion of no confidence in the prime minister on Monday was a gimmick – we attempted to strengthen it with our own amendment and it’s regrettable it was not offered time for debate in Parliament.
“By tabling our motion on Tuesday evening, we hope to be afforded time by the UK government to debate it before Parliament closes for the Christmas recess.”
Blackford said it was clear May’s tactic was to “run down the clock” and deprive parliament of any alternative to her deal.
“Jeremy Corbyn seems happy to let her – presumably to avoid having to make a decision on a second EU referendum. This is not acceptable and people deserve better,” he added.
“We want this motion to succeed but if it doesn’t, Labour’s only excuse for not backing a second referendum will be removed. We can then all get on with building a majority for that vote.”
Saville Roberts added: “Labour may be the ‘official’ opposition, but this is what real opposition looks like.”
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “The SNP seem more interested in Labour’s parliamentary tactics than in the Tory government’s botched Brexit deal, and they have made it clear they do not expect, or even want, this motion to pass. It suits the SNP to keep the Tories in power, with all the chaos and instability that will bring.
“We have said we will not table a motion like this for the purpose of it being defeated, we will do it when we judge it most likely to be successful.
“MPs on all sides are furious that Theresa May is running scared of bringing her deal to the Commons, and Labour is demanding a vote on this as soon as possible.”