Labour heaps pressure on PM by calling for no confidence vote

LONDON: Britain’s main opposition Labour Party will call for a no confidence vote in Theresa May, a largely symbolic move to step up pressure on a prime minister facing deadlock in parliament over her Brexit deal.
The move by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, expected shortly according to a source, does not automatically trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister but further complicates her bid to win support for her deal with the European Union.
The source said the move was aimed at forcing May to resign and that the party believed such a vote would happen this week.
May is pressing on with her deal to leave the European Union, her spokesman said on Monday, despite hardening opposition to it. She has rejected calls for a second referendum or to test support for different Brexit options in parliament.
After a tumultuous week in which she survived a confidence vote and sought last-minute changes to a Brexit agreement reached with Brussels last month, May faces deadlock over her deal in the British parliament.
With the EU offering little in the way of concessions to win over lawmakers, an increasing number of politicians are calling for a second referendum – something some of her ministers say could be avoided if the government tested Brexit scenarios in parliamentary votes.
Parliament is deeply divided, with factions pressing for different options for future ties, exiting without a deal or remaining
in the EU.
May and her ministers have repeatedly ruled out a replay of the referendum, saying it would deepen rifts and betray voters who backed Brexit by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in 2016.
That increases the risk of Britain leaving without a deal on March 29, a scenario some businesses fear would be catastrophic for the world’s fifth largest economy.
The political and economic uncertainty over Brexit is having an impact, with data on Monday showing a drop in consumer spending, falling house prices and growing pessimism in household finances.
May will use a statement in parliament on Monday to reject the idea of a second referendum and to again set out that her agreement to keep close economic ties with the EU after Brexit is the only one on offer.
“Another vote which would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics, because it would say to millions who trusted in democracy, that our democracy does not deliver. Another vote which would likely leave us no further forward than the last,” she will say.
Business Minister Greg Clark said a second vote would only increase uncertainty for the country.
Several members of May’s cabinet team, including Education Minister Damian Hinds, said at the weekend they were open to putting the range of options to parliament to gauge whether there was a majority for any of them. – Reuters