MPs had their second opportunity to vote on the Brexit deal on Tuesday night, and again, it was crushed. The margin was slightly smaller this time – January’s vote was lost by 230, and tonight’s 149 – but the outcome is the same: the deal, as it stands, has no hope of being accepted by Parliament.
Under normal circumstances, two policy rejections of this magnitude would lead to a Prime Minister’s swift resignation.
But these are not normal circumstances.
After the defeat, Theresa May said she “profoundly” regretted the defeat, but announced plans to hold the promised no deal vote in the Commons on Wednesday.
So it seems the Prime Minister has no immediate plans to resign on the back of this second crushing setback.
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And her party can’t make her: last year, Mrs May won a vote of confidence from within her own party, meaning her leadership cannot be challenged for 12 months.
However, there are reports that some of her senior ministers still intend to try.
The Daily Telegraph’s chief political correspondent, Christopher Hope, tweeted after the vote: “One Tory MP tells me his colleagues will consider whether they will go to see Theresa May in a delegation to say that it is time to resign to reboot the Brexit talks. It could be a long night.”
If Mrs May succumbs to pressure from her party and steps down, that would trigger a leadership campaign in the Tory party as they decide who will become the next Prime Minister.
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Others have said that, even if Mrs May holds her post, a general election must be called to give some power back to the public.
Senior Conservative Charles Walker told the BBC: “If the deal doesn’t get through tonight there will have to be a general election.”
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Commons the Prime Minister’s deal is “dead”, again offering Labour’s take on a deal.
He said: “The Prime Minister has run down the clock, and the clock has been run out on her.
“Maybe it’s time, instead, that we have a general election, and the people can choose her their government should be.”
Labour does have the power here: the opposition could table a motion of no confidence in the Conservative government as a whole, just as it did after the last vote.
A vote of no confidence like this allows MPs to vote on whether they want the current government to continue.
If the government loses and no-one manages to put forward an alternative government which gains the support of the Commons, an election must be held.
The bookies have it that Mrs May’s days at the helm are numbered.
Leading bookmakers Coral slashed odds on Mrs May leaving her position tomorrow to just 3/1 as they correctly predicted the failure of the deal.
She is also odds on to not see out the year as PM – with 1/2 – and her former leadership rival Michael Gove as moved into pole position as her most likely successor within the Tories.