Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Brexit
19 November 2018

Whether or not Theresa May goes, her Brexit deal is a long way off the Labour support it needs

The Prime Minister may soon end up wishing the ERG had the numbers to achieve a no confidence vote after all. 

By Stephen Bush

Is Theresa May safe? It depends on the paper you read. Brexit ultras are either wildly adrift of where they need to be to get 48 names or on the brink of collecting them, depending on who you choose to believe.

The reality is that only one person knows what the state of play is – Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench 1922 committee – and he ain’t telling. 

We know that the list of MPs who have publicly said that they have signed and sent letters calling for a confidence vote in May is now at 25, but, rather like clicking “attending” on a Facebook invite, we don’t know if that really means very much. 

​But at risk of sounding like a stuck record, May’s future doesn’t matter all that much compared to what happens to the United Kingdom and the Brexit deal. Twenty five Conservative MPs, plus the ten DUP MPs, means that the government needs to find 28 votes from somewhere among the opposition parties. Add Stephen Lloyd, the Liberal Democrat MP who has promised his constituents to vote for the deal, and they need 27 votes. Sylvia Hermon, the independent Unionist MP, has said she might vote for the deal – so optimistically, that’s 26 votes from the Labour Party to avoid being defeated over the deal.  The Labour Leavers aren’t going to play. So what’s left?

At that point, May might be forgiven for wishing that the ERG had the numbers to get rid of her after all. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Correction: Originally this piece referred to Stephen Lloyd as a Eurosceptic. My apologies – Lloyd has pledged his constituents that he will vote against the deal, but is not himself a Eurosceptic.