Vote of No Confidence: Prime Minister Clings On… But For How Long?

Theresa May Grafitti

By Jwslubbock (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There’s an old saying in sport that ‘a win’s a win’.

It doesn’t have to be pretty or entertaining, it’s just about walking away a winner.

That sort of ‘the result is king’ mindset will have seen Theresa May jump out of bed with a spring in her step this morning after she defeated a rebellious Vote of No Confidence motion designed to oust her as the Prime Minister.

Those Tory rebels were left with egg on their faces as May got home by a margin of 200 votes to 117; far more than the 159 required.

That’s the good news for the PM. The bad news is that she has lost the support of roughly 33% of the Conservative Party, if those votes are a reflection of the general mood. That is a damning indictment of her authority to run the country when even a decent proportion of her own ‘team’ are against her.

May has dashed off to Brussels today to reconnect with European Union officials, and hopefully there will be some forward progression in the Brexit talks soon. As for the deal or no deal vote that has been delayed, it remains to be seen whether she will have the backing of her peers on that one or not.

So What Happens Next?

It’s business as usual for the Prime Minister, as she tries with all her might to secure a Brexit deal that actually works for the UK.

Her leadership is secure for at least a year, that’s constitutional following a Vote of No Confidence, but reports suggest she has told her supporters within the Tory Party that she won’t stand at the next General Election, which is scheduled for 2022.

Indeed, the bookmakers have her as short as 1/3 to leave her role as PM in 2019 once Brexit has been delivered.

Year Theresa May is Replaced as Conservative Leader Odds

The talks with the EU will focus on the controversial Irish ‘backstop’ plan, which would effectively keep the UK within a customs union. This is the most divisive issue that ultimately will stop May’s deal passing through the Commons. Resolve it, and she might just have half a chance.

As for the Conservative rebels, they will have to get down from their high horses, although Jacob Rees-Mogg, like the Dickensian villain he is, has already come out fighting. He has told May to resign after losing face during the vote, telling Radio 4: “Get on with leaving and stop trying to frustrate it by a hopeless withdrawal agreement, with a backstop that keeps us in the customs union, cuts up the country and we’re paying £39bn for the privilege.”

Bad Times for May…Even Worse for Rees-Mogg

The PM may have hung onto power, for now at least, but it was interesting to look at the betting markets relating to her successor as leader of the Conservatives.

Prior to the vote taking place, the books were sweet on the chances of Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary who quit in defiance of May’s ‘weak’ deal. But his odds have shrunk from 9/2 favourite to 5/1 also-ran in the space of 24 hours.

next conservative leader odds

The scale of the PM’s detractors suggests there is a real appetite amongst the Tories for a hard-line Brexit, and perhaps that’s why – gulp – Boris Johnson, a man described by Ken Clarke this week as ‘incapable of running a whelk stall, let alone the country’, has tumbled in the betting market to 4/1 favourite to be next Conservative leader.

Bo-Jo’s ‘Marmite’ nature was summed up perfectly in a YouGov poll this week that accompanied the Vote of No Confidence. Of respondents, 22% think he would make for a good prime minister, which was a higher ratio than any of the other leading candidates identified in the poll.

YouGov Poll on Potential Successors to Theresa May

YouGov Poll on Potential Successors to Theresa May (source)

But before right-wingers rejoice, the same poll also found that 57% of respondents thought he would make a bad PM; far higher than anybody else listed.

Only David Davis and Sajid Javid came out of that poll with any real digity, and even then only 15% of respondents said they would make for a useful prime minister.

Worst off is Jacob Rees-Mogg, a curious fellow who is getting more and more air time of late. Thankfully, priced at 18/1 with the bookmakers, nobody is really taking his Conservative leadership bid seriously.

Brexit Woes Deepen UK Housing Market Downturn

The UK housing market has plummeted to its weakest in more than six years in light of the Brexit fiasco.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reports that all of the date regarding demand, supply and prices were at lows not seen since 2012.

The ratio between buyer and seller is -21%, meaning that supply is outstripping demand considerably.

The RICS’ chief economist, Simon Rubinsohn, said that: “The ongoing uncertainties surrounding how the Brexit process plays out is taking its toll on the housing market. I can’t recall a previous survey when a single issue has been highlighted by quite so many contributors.

“The forward-looking indicators reflect the suspicion that the political machinations are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.

“The bigger risk is that this now spills over into development plans, making it even harder to secure the uplift in the building pipeline to address the housing crisis.”