The Labour leader tabled a non-binding no-confidence motion in Theresa May late on Monday. But the government refused to grant parliamentary time for a vote, describing it as a “stunt,” and Labour MPs have called the move “idiotic.” Now, Mr Corbyn is in even hotter water after appearing to call Theresa May a “stupid woman” in Wednesday’s PMQs.
The row erupted after Mrs May threw down the gauntlet to Jeremy Corbyn to call a vote of confidence in her government on Monday night.
Earlier, the Labour leader announced he would table a confidence vote but only in Mrs May’s herself, rather than in the government as a whole.
But after Mrs May appeared to call his bluff, the Labour leader stalled on tabling the motion, resulting in an onslaught of criticism from within his own party and beyond.
The party’s front bench was accused of “idiotic” decisions and missing an opportunity to damage the Tories.
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Labour had hoped to tempt Tory Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to vote for a “censure motion,” which is short of a full confidence vote under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.
But after she secured the backing of Brexiteers and the DUP, Mrs May said she would guarantee time in the Commons but only for a full confidence vote in her government.
The Labour leadership backed away from a full no-confidence vote because if the party’s tactic had failed, because Labour’s official policy is to push for a general election but, if that proves unsuccessful, to consider options including another EU vote.
Many in the party fear backing a referendum would harm support in its Leave-backing constituencies, especially in the north of England.
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John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, said that while convention said the government should provide time for a formal no-confidence vote, “no such convention applies in relation to this particular motion, which is not a conventional no-confidence motion”.
The Times reported on a WhatsApp group of Labour MPs, one complained: “The front bench has snatched a large defeat from the jaws of a narrow defeat.”
Another accused Mr Corbyn of “doing this deliberately so he doesn’t have to decide on Brexit. The irony is that it is a betrayal of the party membership.”
A third said the whole thing was “idiotic and backfired.”
Another backbencher said the last 24 hours had been an “omnishambles” of the party leadership’s making.
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An omnishambles is defined as a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterised by a string of blunders and miscalculations.
The SNP and other opposition parties table a vote of no confidence in the UK government – but it is understood the government only has to give time to motions tabled in the name of the Leader of the Opposition
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, branded Mr Corbyn the “midwife of Brexit” and accused him of “letting the Government off the hook.”
The Telegraph reported on Labour MP who said: “I think it’s a total shambles and completely humiliating for the Labour Party. This was entirely predictable.
“It makes a mockery of the claim that Labour are a government in waiting. I think this genuinely is the most incompetent government in history facing the most incompetent opposition.”