Theresa May suffered the worst defeat of any government in history last night. That’s no exaggeration. A majority of 230 MPs voted against her Brexit deal – bigger than anyone was expecting – with 248 Labour MPs, 118 Tories and all other parties opposed. Only three Labour MPs rebelled to vote for May’s deal – Ian Austin, Kevin Barron, John Mann – plus Frank Field, now sitting as an Independent, whereas 63% of Tory backbenchers voted against the government. After the meaningful vote, Jeremy Corbyn told MPs he had tabled a motion of no confidence in the government, which will be debated today and voted on at 7pm.
What has actually changed? Although the Prime Minister indicated that she would reach across the Commons to hold cross-party talks with a “constructive spirit” when speaking at the despatch box, the reality is far less encouraging. Her spokesman made clear last night that she would not seek talks with Corbyn, but “senior parliamentarians” only, and this was confirmed by Andrea Leadsom on Today this morning. This stance could dissipate after the confidence vote tonight, though it does align with May’s extraordinarily stubborn approach and her persistence in prioritising the Conservative Party over the country.