Theresa May’s Defiant Response to Threats of No Confidence

Written by: Katie Seitelman

This week UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, presented the draft of her Brexit plan, detailing how the UK would leave the EU. The deal was not well received and sparked multiple resignations. Of particular importance was the resignation of Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, whose resignation triggered a series of others. Fellow members of the conservative party have begun submitting letters of no confidence. If enough members of parliament submit letters saying they do not believe in May’s leadership and deals she proposes, then a vote of no confidence will be held.  A total of 48 letters are needed to trigger the vote of no confidence. A vote of no confidence would likely push Theresa May to resign as Prime Minister.  

May is under pressure to deliver a deal regarding Brexit before March 29th, 2018, the date by which the British public was promised a plan. May has responded with defiance to the widespread dissatisfaction with the proposed deal. In an interview with Sky News on Sunday, November 18th May said, “(Replacing me) is not going to make the (Brexit) negotiations any easier,” and said the deal was “what’s right for the people of this country” and the “national interest.” May insisted there is no better deal to be had and is showing little willingness to renegotiate or drastically change the deal despite the claims that she bends to the EU’s will too easily. The plan is unlikely to pass through parliament as so many are unhappy with it. Raab is confident it will not get the votes to pass. 

Thus the idea of no-deal, despite the March 29th deadline, is becoming a reality. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party Leader, admitted that the Labour Party would vote against the plan May presented. Corbyn even floated the idea of a second Brexit referendum as a possibility for the future. The Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC that her party would also be voting against the Brexit deal.  If Labour and other opposition Members of Parliament all vote in line with their party leaders, and  Conservative rebels join them, the government may very well lose. This would delay the process even more. 

Other MP’s are very critical of the concessions May made for the Brexit Plan. Raab said if they do not get the deal that they expected they should not be afraid to walk away. He says, “I think there is one thing that is missing and that is political will and resolve. I am not sure that message has ever landed.” Raab claimed that May is allowing Britain to be “blackmailed and bullied” by the EU. Raab said that the UK should demand a deal that allows them to leave the Customs Union unilaterally. Many other critics shared a similar sentiment; that the plan she created is not fair to those who voted to stay and those who voted to leave alike. Many who voted to the leave the EU were not expecting a plan like this and said they would have voted to stay if they knew this was the alternative. 

Theresa May has a tough task in front of her, and one cannot expect her to produce a deal to satisfy everyone. During the voting on the initial Brexit referendum, there was very little clarity on how leaving the EU would look and function. Therefore, everyone had different ideas about this. Now, May must bring this unexplored and unclear idea to fruition, something incredibly complex and difficult. Not only is May facing a huge and difficult situation, the problem is exacerbated by a British public that is eager to see some action taken, as it has been over two and half years since the referendum. Britain, the rest of the EU countries, and world is now watching to see what will happen next. Right now, it looks like there is no clear path onward, and certainly not one that will please everyone. Given the current situation, with May stuck between a rock and a hard place, a second referendum is becoming a more plausible idea. Many people are outraged with the way the Brexit deal is playing out, and claiming that it is not at all what they expected when voting. This mentality has lead to a sharp increase in people vying for a second referendum. 

The potential for a second referendum brings even more uncertainty and potential disasters. For instance, if the people voted to stop Brexit would the EU even allow the UK to stay? What would be the repercussions for the UK’s role in the EU after having decided to leave, changed its policies, and then decided to stay? In the event that the public votes to continue with Brexit, the government will be in the same situation but worse, having wasted more time and lost even more trust from the public. As of right now, there is no clear end in sight and no one seems to have an idea of how it will play out. While the deal and situation may not be ideal, Theresa May does seem to be muddling through each step of the process with determination.