Jeremy Corbyn has called a no confidence vote in the government in an effort to trigger a general election after Theresa May suffered a record Commons defeat on her Brexit deal.
May attempted to steal the Labour leader’s thunder by offering a vote of no confidence in her own government on Wednesday after being defeated by a massive 230 votes in the Commons.
The opposition leader took up the offer and MPs will vote on the government’s fate at 7pm on Wednesday.
If Corbyn wins and a new government cannot command the support of the majority of MPs within 14 calendar days, parliament is dissolved and a general election is triggered.
But the Labour leader is widely expected to lose, with the DUP and Tory Brexiteers pledging to back May’s government even if they oppose the deal.
A senior Labour source signalled the party could however look to bring more no confidence motions to the Commons even if it loses tomorrow, noting: “There have been occasions in the past where there have been no confidence votes in the government which haven’t succeeded on the first occasion.”
Asked if that meant Labour would try again, the source said: “We are putting all our effort into winning tomorrow”.
It will raise speculation that Corbyn is trying to avoid having to back a second referendum.
The party has set a policy stating that if it cannot force a snap election it must support “all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote”.
Pressed on the issue, the source said: “I was just drawing attention to the fact that motions of no confidence can happen more than once but if we can’t get a general election all options are on the table including an option of a public vote and we would seek to get the best deal in those circumstances.”
Caling the no confidence vote in the Commons, Corbyn said the “catastrophic” defeat represented an “absolutely decisive” verdict by MPs on Mrs May’s handling of Brexit.
Responding to her massive defeat, May also offered cross-party talks with MPs to find a way through the parliamentary Brexit impasse.
But the source revealed Corbyn had not yet been invited.
“there has been no contact with us or with Jeremy from the government apart from when he met the prime minister in December.
“What has been striking has been how little the government has sought to build support for its position or test support in parliament across the parties and the scale of the defeat tonight was a reflection of that.”
Corbyn told MPs: “I hear the words of the prime minister but the actions of her Government in these past two years speak equally clearly.
“She is only attempting to reach out now to try to keep her failed deal alive after it has been so roundly rejected by parliament on behalf of the people of this country...
“She cannot seriously believe that after two years of failure, she is capable of negotiating a good deal for the people of this country.
“On the most important issue facing us, this government has lost the confidence of this House and this country.”