Britain’s opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will use a speech in Wakefield, in northern England, today to call for a general election if PM Theresa May loses a vote in parliament over her Brexit plans on Tuesday.
The rub is that he is unlikely to get one, and many of his own Labour lawmakers don’t really want one anyway. That said, there is an evolution in Labour’s ambiguous position on Brexit that could emerge as highly significant in coming weeks.
Yesterday, two Labour officials confirmed the party would call a vote of confidence in May within days of the likely defeat of her Brexit deal in parliament.
Yet with May expected to win a confidence vote with backing from her party and the Northern Irish DUP, that would rule out a general election and instead put pressure on Labour finally to declare whether it would back a second referendum.
As a new plebiscite could not be organised by the March 29 leaving date, that would in turn require an extension of Article 50 – a measure Labour’s Brexit spokesman separately said now looked inevitable.
All this comes amid a cross-party push for parliament to take back more control of the Brexit process from the government. Despite all this, City analysts still see more than an even-money chance of May’s deal eventually going through in some form as this high-stakes game of chicken plays out.