There were dramatic scenes in the House of Commons as tempers frayed and MPs bayed loudly, but the hardline Brexiteers of the ERG party within the Tory Party and her DUP allies who had let the Prime Minister down last night, voted loyally to keep her in power.
After suffering the worst parliamentary defeat by a British Prime Minister for at least a hundred years last night, Theresa May scraped through a vote of no confidence called by Jeremy Corbyn by 19 votes.
There were 306 votes for the motion which would trigger an election, 325 against. If the 10 DUP MPs had voted against the government as they did last night, the PM would have lost the vote by 1, precipitating a general election.
After the votes were counted, Theresa May for the first time announced that she would meet as early as this evening with the leaders of other parties including the Labour Party leader for talks on how to break the deadlock in parliament over Brexit.
Jeremy Corbyn and SNP Commons leader Ian Blackford responded by demanding that the PM rule out the threat of a damaging no deal Brexit hanging over Britain.
The Conservative government, a minority government since their ill-judged snap election to make the country more “strong and stable” in 2017, were given a life line by the DUP as promised.
The unionist party given a sweetener worth over a billion pounds for Northern Ireland for a “confidence and supply” agreement to allow Theresa May to form a government had turned against the government in its humiliating “Meaningful Vote on Brexit” last night.
But tonight the hard line Northern Irish party allowed Theresa May to scrape through the vote of No Confidence in the government.
As the No Confidence debate began, with no hint of irony, Theresa May who barely survived her snap election she called a year and a half ago, warned MPs that another election “would deepen division when we need unity, it would bring chaos when we need certainty and it would bring delay when we need to move forward.”
She pleaded for the House of Commons to reject the Labour Party motion, explaining “at this crucial moment in our nation’s history a general election is simply not in the national interest, Parliament decided to put the question of our membership of the European Union to the people, Parliament promised to abide by the result, Parliament invoked Article 50 to trigger the process and now Parliament must finish the job.”
But after repeated parliamentary defeats, being found in contempt of parliament, limping through a vote of no confidence in her leadership by her own party, losing the Brexit vote she was forced to delay in December by a record number of votes, Theresa May, as opposition MPs pointed out looked far from “strong and stable.”
The Labour leader told the Commons that the government had suffered “the largest defeat in the history of our democracy” last night.
And Jeremy Corbyn mocked how unreliable her confidence and supply agreement was for maintaining her minority government: “Last week they lost a vote on the Finance bill, that’s what called supply. Yesterday they lost by the biggest margin ever, that’s what’s regarded as confidence.
“By any convention of this House, by any precedence, loss of both confidence and supply should mean they do the right thing and resign.”
The SNP’s Pete Wishart added: “She’s lost a quarter of her Cabinet, 170 members of her backbench want her gone, she’s experienced the biggest defeat in parliamentary history, what shred of credibility has her Government got left? For goodness sake, Prime Minister won’t you just go?”
But though the diminished government limped through to fight another day in parliament, it looks weaker than ever, with warnings that a general election may now be inevitable.
Cabinet colleague warned the PM today that with the Brexit deal that took two years of the Government’s time and energy negotiate solidly rejected by MPs, her options are limited.
They warned that the government was likely to lose control of the Brexit process to the House of Commons, which if they ignore could result in more confidence votes and a possible general election.
Labour have threatened more votes of no confidence if Theresa May continues to flounder.