Oliver Wright, policy editor. January 15 2019, 9:00pm, The Times
What will Theresa May do next?
In the immediate aftermath of her defeat the prime minister announced that for the first time in the Brexit process she would work with MPs from other parties to try to identify “what would be required” to secure parliamentary backing for an alternative deal to leave the European Union. She added that if those meetings yielded ideas, the government would “explore them” with the EU.
However, Downing Street insisted afterwards that Mrs May was not looking to depart from her core principles of leaving the customs union and the single market. A spokesman also said that the prime minister still did not believe that it was necessary to extend Article 50, despite a political consensus that there is not enough time to devise and pass a new deal by March.
Mrs May also announced that she would give MPs the chance to debate and vote on Labour’s motion of no confidence in her government. The vote is expected to be held tonight.
Will Mrs May survive a vote of confidence?
The expectation is that she will. She will have to rely on the Democratic Unionist Party, which is vehemently opposed to her deal but has indicated that it will support the government in confidence motions as long as the deal is not passed. If, as expected, the confidence motion fails and Jeremy Corbyn fails to secure a general election, there will be pressure on the Labour leader to outline a new Brexit policy. Many Labour members want him to call for a second referendum, but he may buy time by seizing on Mrs May’s offer of cross-party talks. He will hope that the government moves towards Labour’s position of keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU and maintaining close ties to the single market.
When will Mrs May go back to Brussels?
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, flew to Brussels from a meeting of the European parliament in Strasbourg last night expecting “emergency” talks within 48 hours, but Mrs May said that she would not go to Brussels until next week at the earliest, after the cross-party talks in Westminster.