As May’s voice fails like her Brexit deal, calls for a general election grow louder

Theresa May next to a polling station sign
Joshua Funnell

Theresa May’s record of failure will likely peak with another defeat on her Brexit deal on 12 March. And with her voice literally failing in parliament, so too is her disastrous time as PM.

May’s previous Brexit deal defeat was by the biggest losing margin for a government in parliamentary history. And despite her record for clinging on to power against the odds, if she loses, demands for her to call a general election will be deafening.

In fact, they’ve already begun.

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Despite media claims, May has failed

After May’s previous Brexit deal defeat, she was granted a negotiation extension by parliament via an amendment proposed by Conservative Graham Brady. This amendment gave May a mandate to negotiate “alternative arrangements” on the contentious backstop in Ireland – an issue stopping many MPs supporting her deal.

But it’s now clear that the changes she’s negotiated don’t alter the fundamental legal effect of the backstop arrangement.

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Yet, embarrassingly, some media initially repeated government claims that May had, against the odds, secured legally binding changes on its EU deal:

But as Owen Jones pointed out, this turned out to be “nonsense”:

The key part of the attorney general’s statement was highlighted by journalist Liam Young:

And as May has failed to achieve the legally binding assurances needed to please her Brexit supporting MPs, she will likely lose tonight’s vote.

This is especially likely, as the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg claims that the changes achieved are not enough to satisfy the DUP, which secured May’s working majority:

If she loses, what comes next?

Although we cannot know with certainty that May will lose, many are asking what will happen next if she does:

Sky News’s Lewis Goodall, has spelled out the possibilities should she lose:

As has the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire:

And also ITV’s Paul Brand:

What all their analyses have in common is the prospect of a general election.

Even Tories are suggesting an election is on the cards

Talk of an election is not just coming from journalists, but Conservative politicians. Described by the BBC as a “senior Conservative”, Charles Walker said the following:

I think if a deal doesn’t get through tonight, I think there will have to be a General Election because this parliament now looks very much like a failing parliament.

He went on to say:

And if we can’t decide tonight to leave the EU under the terms that the prime minister has negotiated, then I can’t see really how this government can continue in office. I think she will have to seek a new mandate.

This is significant.

As Steven Swinford of the Telegraph makes clear, Walker is a “staunch defender” of the prime minister:

Swinford went on to relay more of Walker’s damning words about the Conservative government:

Sky News’s Beth Rigby also illustrated the hopelessness of May’s situation:

What would an election mean?

Paul Waugh of the Huffington Post claims that many Conservatives at a meeting with May were against another election:

But one Twitter user highlighted polling that suggests a majority of people in Britain support a general election:

Although writer Ian Dunt questions what a general election would achieve in regard to Brexit:

And, considering May lost by 230 votes previously, it is likely that she would not only need to win an election, but win a large majority full of loyal MPs to pass her current deal:

Would an election be good for Labour?

Professor Tim Bale suggests that the Conservatives might think Labour is there to be beaten, if some polls are to be believed:

But Jones had a different take on events:

And writer Jon Worth painted an optimistic future election scenario for Labour:

A question of honour

Theresa May lost her majority at the 2017 general election. And she’s lost numerous significant votes on her defining issue as prime minister, Brexit. These were reasons enough for her to resign and to call an election. But should she again fail tonight, it will surely be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

As writer and commentator Bonnie Greer commented, this is a question of honour:

“Nothing has changed!” became the defining phrase of the 2017 general election. And, ironically, nothing has changed regarding May’s dire performance in negotiating Brexit.

Labour overcame a 20+ point polling deficit having been deemed “unelectable” in the previous election. Things have changed. And there is now every reason to believe a new general election will end in a socialist Labour government.

Featured image via YouTube – James Wo and YouTube – Financial Times.

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  • Show Comments
    1. I have been saying this for months. There should never have been a referendum, but since there was, and it created the political disaster it has, the only, ONLY, solution is a General Election. The Tories are too scared. The people are screwed.

      Let’s get back to government by the Members of Parliament that WE elect to represent us in the House of Commons. The current lot have failed to govern, so it’s time to have a GE and re-elect or replace our MPs so a new government can be formed. It will then be their job to address the stupid mistakes of the current lot.

      In (the EU), out (of the EU), shake it all about, that’s what an election is for. Let’s do the EU oakey cokey. And let’s be quick about it!

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