Trap Sprung: Theresa May Survives Vote of No Confidence, What's Next?


Theresa May survives a Tory leadership challenge by a vote of 200-117 but at a price. She will not run for PM again.

The Telegraph reports Theresa May Survives No Confidence Vote but 117 Tory MPs Vote Against Her.

Theresa May has won the backing of her MPs to “finish the job” on Brexit after making a surprise promise to quit before the next general election. The Prime Minister won a confidence vote by 200 to 117, securing her immediate future, but undermined her own authority by starting a countdown towards her own resignation.

The number of MPs voting against her was also significantly higher than many predicted, raising significant doubts over whether her position remains safe in the long term. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the European Research Group leading efforts to topple Mrs May, described it as a "terrible result" for her.

She told Conservative MPs: “In my heart I would have loved to have led us into the next election, but I realize that we will need a new leader with new objectives for the 2022 election.”

Although she refused to give a date for when she will step down, the announcement fired the starting gun on a race to succeed her, with several Cabinet ministers already well advanced with their plans.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the European Research Group leading efforts to topple Mrs May, described it as a "terrible result" for her. He added: "She ought to go and see the Queen urgently and resign."

Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab were the bookmakers’ favourites last night to be next Tory leader, with Sajid Javid and Michael Gove also among the front-runners.

Trap Sprung

Theresa May figured she would not last one way or another so she may as well step out with a method that gives her the best chance of getting Brexit done the way she wants.

There can be at most one party challenge per year. No matter what fool thing she says or does now, there cannot be another Tory vote of confidence.

There can, however, be a parliament-wide vote of no confidence. Ultimately, it is highly likely to come to that.

Labour and DUP can throw he out now, but each has their own problems as I wrote earlier today in Tory MPs Trigger a Vote of No Confidence: Did May Spring a Trap on Them?

Potential Trap (Laid Out Prior to the Vote)

  1. It was to May’s advantage to trigger a leadership challenge ASAP because it keeps her options open while closing the door for another year on a leadership challenge. A leadership challenge was coming. I am convinced May wanted it sooner rather than later. She got it.
  2. If May survives the challenge, by even one vote, Tories cannot hold another leadership confidence vote for a year, no matter what foolish thing she does.
  3. Corbyn had been hesitant to call for a parliament-wide motion of no confidence out of fear he loses. Instead, he clings to the notion May will be forced to resign.
  4. If May survives the Tory challenge, she would even be free to threaten to resign or call new elections unless the Tories back her preposterous deal.
  5. If we got to point four, the Tories would then either have to vote for her deal or risk elections. Labour is leading in the polls.
  6. May’s problem is the DUP. They may dump her triggering elections at any point.
  7. The DUP’s problem, if they do not do along with May, is the possibility a hard border.
  8. In the end, I think May is counting on points 7 and 5. But first she had to sucker a leadership challenge out of the Tories, which she just did.

Where Are We Now?

Point number 4 has now been settled. May is free to kiss the EU's ass with impunity.

And rest assured she will cooperate 100% with the EU on a plan to placate or split Rebel Tories, DUP, and Rebel Labour MPs with words that likely will have no legal meaning.

Her worst enemy is the simple fact that a no-deal Brexit is the default scenario.

We are now precisely at point number 5.

At any time, May can threaten to step down triggering elections. DUP is in a box.

May's gamble might not be successful, but it was the best chance she had to her horrible deal passed.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (22)
No. 1-10

Interesting that £GBP only strengthened slightly against the $USD. Went from about 1.25 to 1.26. This suggests markets aren't convinced. Not sure where it goes from here, back to $1.30'ish or eventually down to parity? So what are the options?

  1. Hard Brexit- bringing much short-medium term uncertainty
  2. May's Brexit- more medium to long term uncertainty, and surely to anger about 50% of the population
  3. No Brexit- riots on the street?
  4. Second referendum, and all the possibilities that brings.

UK is now in a lose-lose situation as far as I can see.

Mike Mish Shedlock
Mike Mish Shedlock


Setup is close to 50-50 between deal and no deal. Each has some twists. But Referendum is the least likely outcome.


Here is what we know:

  1. If May changes her Brexit proposal, the EU will not accept it.
  2. If she does not change it, Parliament won't vote for it. Why give 40 billion pounds to the EU to get junior status?
  3. If she does nothing and Parliament does nothing, we have a hard Brexit at the end of March.
  4. The ECJ has said the UK may rescind its Brexit decision.

Given the above, I think what happens is May gets Parliament to extend the Article 50 declaration (meaning the March trigger of a hard Brexit gets pushed). Easy to do with Tory support, as only a small minority in Parliament want a hard Brexit. Unfortunately, I think Brexit (i.e., removal of EU sovereignty over the UK) is now dead.


"Trap Sprung: Theresa May Survives Vote of No Confidence, What's Next?"

What is it, 7/8ths of an iceberg is under water?



FTSE is yielding about 4% from global names. Some big international institutions consider the UK ininvestable and that is throwing up some interesting opportunities for those with the eyes to see.


As a somewhat disinterested bystander to the Brexit process it has simply amazed me what a shambolic country the UK has become. I cannot see things changing for the better because there is simply too much division which will influence the UK political scene for decades. Does Australia, or indeed any Commonwealth country, want a closer relationship ? Not for me it doesn't. Better to keep our distance and keep well away from the whole damned mess.


There's also the possibility that the UK will decide to temporarily put off the article 50 leave process, and stay in until they have a better deal. It's the kind of move that politicians would favour ...


"4 If May survives the Tory challenge, she would even be free to threaten to resign or call new elections unless the Tories back her preposterous deal.

5 If we got to point four, the Tories would then either have to vote for her deal or risk elections. Labour is leading in the polls."

Labour may be leading in the polls now but, if May's deal is voted down and new elections may are called, this lead will evaporate quickly if the Tories choose a committed Brexiteer. Other polls have shown that voters do not believe Corbyn can serve any better a Brexit, especially as Corbyn, like May, was a soft Bremainer (although the EU might make some concessions to get Corbyn in).


One other option:

May loses a vote of confidence in parliament but it is directed at her and not the whole government (with those voting no confidence in parliament clearly saying this is directed at May) and Tories get their act together and make a deal with DUP to continue governing after a new Brexit voting Prime Minister is chosen from among Tories to replace May. So no new elections.

This is the best way out of May's incompetent rule and Rees-Mogg hinted at something like this on the Guardian live feed that is a must read if you want to know what is happening in UK regarding Brexit.

Remember May is a happenstance Prime Minister that only got the job because:

1. Gove stabbed Boris Johnson in the back by also trying to become Tory leader and Prime Minister and while doing so badmouthed Boris Johnson.

2. Boris Johnson realized he no longer had the numbers to become Tory leader and Prime Minister and none of the Brexit supporters had the numbers to become Prime Minister if he continued his campaign so he dropped out to increase the chance that a Brexiteer would be chosen by Tories as new leader and Prime Minister.

3. Gove continued his campaign but was surprised he was now considered a back-stabber by most and had no chance but still continued through the campaign thereby splitting the vote. Others in the race were Michael Fox and Stephen Crabb who also did not have any chance but were just on vanity missions and splitting the vote.

4. Most Brexiteers but their faith in Andrea Leadsom but she gave a train-crash interview where she implied she had more at stake on the future of UK since she has 3 kids and grand-kids while May is childless and this caused a public outrage and led to incredible hate against Leadsom and the Tory "strategists" encouraged her to drop out for the good of the Party so she dropped out.

5. Even with all this as a background May got 50.2% of the vote on the 1st round and 60.5% on the second round even when practically running against candidates who had withdrawn (Leadsom) or back-stabbed (Gove) or were no-hopers (Crabb and Fox).

May's Prime Ministership was a failure of the Tory party and failure of Brexiteers who concentrated on in-fighting and after lots of fighting tried to support Leadsom who self-destructed and was "advised" by Tory "strategists" to drop out.

May should have never been an UK Prime Minister but here we are...

Ron Cataldi
Ron Cataldi

If the UK ends up holding a second referendum on Brexit, May's actions will suddenly be recast in such a way to make her appear absolutely brilliant, willing to play a years-long game of grandmaster-level deception and strategy to get the outcome she always wanted, which was to stay in the EU anyway. Odds are high that the British people will not back Brexit again given a choice, and odds are rising for such a second referendum.

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