LONDON, Jan 17 (APP):Theresa May has survived as prime minister after weathering a dramatic no-confidence vote in her government, but was left scrambling to strike a Brexit compromise that could secure the backing of parliament, Guardian reported.
According to the British Newspaper, in a statement in Downing Street on Wednesday night, the prime minister exhorted politicians from all parties to “put aside self-interest”, and promised to consult with MPs with “the widest possible range of views” in the coming days.
She had earlier announced that she would invite Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders for immediate talks on how to secure a Brexit deal, although Labour later said Corbyn would decline the invitation unless no-deal was taken off the table.
A day after overwhelmingly rejecting her Brexit deal, rebel Conservatives and Democratic Unionist party (DUP) MPs swung behind the prime minister to defeat Labour’s motion of no confidence by 325 votes to 306 – a majority of 19, the paper said.
According to the Guardian , the prime minister immediately extended her invitation to opposition leaders, having pointedly declined to do so earlier in the day.
“I would like to ask the leaders of the parliamentary parties to meet with me individually, and I would like to start those meetings tonight,” she said. Corbyn responded by urging May to rule out no-deal.
In her late night statement, the prime minister said: “I am disappointed that the leader of the Labour party has not so far chosen to take part – but our door remains open … It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done.”
The Scottish National party’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, met May on Wednesday night, and the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, also accepted her invitation, the Guardian said.
Blackford later wrote to May, urging her to make a “gesture of faith” to show that she was serious.
He said that the SNP would take part in cross-party talks “if you are able to confirm that the extension of article 50, a ruling out of a no-deal Brexit and the option of a second EU referendum would form the basis of those discussions”.
With just five days to go before May must make a statement to parliament setting out her Brexit plan B, Downing Street continued to indicate that she was not ready to budge on her red lines, including membership of a customs union.
Conservative politicians are deeply divided about how May should adapt her deal to win over hostile MPs.
The South Cambridgeshire Tory MP, Heidi Allen, said: “I thought she was incredibly brave [after the Brexit defeat] and it felt like she got that we need to change. But today it was: ‘I’ll talk to people, but my red lines are still there.’ And that’s not going to work at all, the British paper said.
It added said “Maybe the prime minister needs a little bit longer but she has got to reflect: stop pandering to the hard right of my party and start talking to those of us who have been working across parties for months. We’re a functioning, collaborative body already. She just needs to tap into us.”
Some cabinet ministers clearly indicated the need for flexibility, with the justice secretary, David Gauke, warning that the government should not allow itself to be “boxed in”, and Amber Rudd suggesting a customs union could not be ruled out, the paper added.
According to Guardian, Labour has not ruled out tabling further no confidence votes in the days ahead, in the hope of peeling off exasperated Tory rebels and triggering a general election. But on Wednesday night other opposition parties sent a letter to Corbyn, which said they expected him to honour his promise to back a public vote if Labour failed to get an election.
The paper further said that a Lib Dem source suggested they may not back future no confidence votes if they felt it was a way to evade the issue. “We will support any real opportunity to take down the Tories with relish. We will not be party to Corbyn using spurious means to avoid Labour policy, by pursuing unwinnable no confidence votes,” the Guardian quoting source said.
The DUP was quick to stress that without their 10 MPs, the government would have lost the confidence vote, and called on May to focus on tackling their concerns with the Irish backstop.
“Lessons will need to be learned from the vote in parliament. The issue of the backstop needs to be dealt with and we will continue to work to that end,” said Nigel Dodds, the party’s leader at Westminster.
No 10 said a no-deal Brexit could not be ruled out. “We will leave the European Union, our preference is with a deal,” May’s spokesman said. Asked if he was taking the no-deal option off the table, the spokesman said: “I am not.”
He also suggested a customs union was not up for discussion: “We want to be able to do our own trade deals, and that is incompatible with either the or a customs union.”, the paper said.
According to Guardian, after meeting party leaders, May is expected to extend the invitation to opposition backbenchers over the coming days, as well Tory Eurosceptics.
“We want to find a way forward and we are approaching this in a constructive spirit,” May’s spokesman said. “We’ve set out the principles but clearly there is an overriding aim – to leave the European Union with a good deal – and we are open-minded.”
Civil servants and political staff are likely to attend the meetings, and ministers can direct civil servants to draw up more concrete plans where necessary, but the talks will not have the same formal status as coalition negotiations.