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THE “hopelessly divided” Conservative government cannot deliver Brexit and must be shown the door, Labour charged after Tory MPs held a confidence vote in Theresa May.
The vote shows that the government is “completely immobilised” at such a critical time for the country, Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said.
And Labour MP Richard Burgon warned that changing the party's leader wouldn't make any difference anyway, noting: “Theresa May is a failing Prime Minister. However, the root cause of her failure is the fact she leads a hopelessly and bitterly divided party.”
The vote was triggered by the back-bench 1922 committee, with just over 100 days until Britain leaves the EU, having received at least 48 letters from Tory MPs calling for a ballot.
It was announced a day after the Scottish Nationalists, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems and Greens called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to table a motion of no confidence in Ms May and her party over her shambolic handling of the Brexit deal and the cancelling of MPs’ vote on it yesterday.
However, Mr Lavery said that Labour would only bring a no-confidence vote when it is sure that it can be won. The DUP still says it would support the government in such a vote, giving the Tories a majority.
But, he said, that the successive vote triggered by Tory backbenchers in Ms May’s leadership shows that discontent over her “weakness and failure” is widespread even within her party.
Shadow justice secretary Mr Burgon told the BBC that, “if anyone thinks that this problem for the country and for our democracy is solved by changing who’s the figurehead of the divided Conservative Party, they’re sadly mistaken.”
“The Prime Minister’s half-baked Brexit deal does not have the backing of her Cabinet, her party, Parliament or the country,” he added.
“The Conservative Party’s internal divisions are putting people’s jobs and living standards at risk.”
Ms May needed the support of more than half of the 316 Tory MPs to stay in office.
If she won with at least 159 votes, she will be able to lead the government for another year without being challenged by her MPs, but her authority looks fatally wounded.
Members of Ms May’s Cabinet put on a united public front in her support by describing the timing of the challenge to her leadership as “unfortunate” and “inappropriate.”
Mr Corbyn said that, whatever the outcome, the result would be “utterly irrelevant to the lives of people across our country.”
He also said: “Whatever happens with Theresa May’s vote of no confidence, it does nothing to solve the Conservatives’ total inability to govern.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter: “Today is a stark reminder that the UK is facing chaos and crisis entirely because of a vicious civil war within the Tory Party. What a self-centred bunch they are. They all need to go, not just the PM.”
Green MP Caroline Lucas wrote in calling for a second referendum on withdrawal from the EU: “Tory plotters know that any replacement PM would face the exact same parliamentary arithmetic and exact same deadlock over Brexit.”
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