Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve has said that he thinks Theresa May would survive a motion of no confidence if one was brought, as he hasn’t “met a colleague who plans to bring down their own goverment”.
Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer on the talkRADIO breakfast show, Remainer Mr Mr Grieve said he would not be voting against the Prime Minister if a no confidence motion was initiated.
“I shall certainly not be voting against the Prime Minister in a motion of no confidence,” he said.
“I think precipitating a general election will add to our problems and solve nothing.
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“[A no confidence motion] doesn’t automatically mean there’d be a general election but there is a risk there could be, and I don’t think that would be very helpful.”
He said that, if the situation arose, Conservatives would likely unite behind Mrs May.
“Will it unite the Tory ranks? I think it probably will. I haven’t heard or met a colleague who says they’re going to vote to bring down their own government on a motion of no confidence.”
A protester demonstrates in favour of a second referendum. Image: Getty
Hartley-Brewer asked if he thought it was “inevitable” that the withdrawal agreement would be defeated in the meaningful vote on December 11, and what was likely to happen if it was.
“I think what’s likely to happen if the government is defeated, is Labour will trigger a motion of no confidence. I don’t know if that would be successful or not, I hope not,” Mr Grieve replied.
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“I think there would then be a series of votes where parliament will have an opportunity in expressing its collective opinion on whether there is… a majority wanting a different outcome in terms of Brexit.”
He added that he didn’t think the proposed other options for a Brexit deal were achievable, and that he would push for a second vote.
“Some of my colleagues want a Norway plus option, I’m not sure that’s deliverable. There may be some others who try to argue for a Canada style agreement - the problem with that, I don’t think the EU will give it to us without a backstop.
“Finally, there are some colleagues, including myself, who will stress for a second referendum. I think all that will be debated in the period after the government is defeated on its own motion.”
Brexit legal advice
The government is facing pressure to publish the legal advice it received on the Brexit deal, with Labour threatening to initiate contempt of parliament proceedings if it isn’t.
Despite disagreeing that the advice should be published, Mr Grieve said he was unsure parliament could resist the demands.
“The decision of the Commons two weeks ago [to pass a motion on publishing the advice] is one I didn’t support,” he said.
“But the fact is, the government didn’t seek to resist it with a vote, it allowed the motion to be passed, and I think while they can certainly attempt to ask the Attorney General - or indeed another minister - to come along to the Commons and provide lots of information short of publishing it, if the Commons still wishes to have it, I don’t think the government is in a position to resist it.”