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Jeremy Corbyn tables motion of no confidence in Theresa May

Jeremy Corbyn tabled Labour's no-confidence motion after a three-hour political merry-go-round in parliament. Picture by House of Commons/PA
David Wilcock, Press Association

JEREMY Corbyn tabled Labour's no-confidence motion against British prime minister Theresa May after a three-hour political merry-go-round in parliament.

Reports started to emerge before 3pm on Monday that the opposition would introduce the procedure if no firm date was set for the meaningful vote on Brexit plans, which had originally been due to take place on December 11.

After Mrs May got to her feet at 3.30pm and announced that the vote would take place in the week beginning January 14, after debate the previous week, Downing Street was forced to deny claims that it had made a late change under Labour pressure as "sadly incorrect".

A source said a copy of her statement was sent to the opposition at 3pm, "give or take", under the terms of an existing agreement, which contained the "already-agreed decision" to hold the vote in the second week after parliament returned from the Christmas recess.

The source insisted the statement was not sent late to Labour, adding: "It was a copy of the statement drafted well in advance of that briefing [on the confidence motion] from the Leader of the Opposition's office becoming public, and the statement that was sent to him reflected an already-drafted and already-agreed decision."

Mr Corbyn, in his initial response to the prime minister's statement, claimed she had "been dragged kicking and screaming to announce a date to restart the debate" and did not table the motion.

At 5.17pm he tweeted similar sentiments along with a video of their Commons exchange, but around 35 minutes later he was back on his feet to announce the motion would be tabled after all.

He told MPs that "it's bad, unacceptable, that we should be waiting almost a month before we have a meaningful vote on the crucial issue facing the future of this country" and that a vote should be held this week.

Before the motion was tabled, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon attacked the situation in Westminster as "woeful".

She said on Twitter: "This shambles of a government is driving the UK towards disaster, and the official opposition seems content to just stand back and watch.

"Week of Jan 14 was always likely to be the government's chosen timescale – by acceding to it, Labour is allowing them to waste another month.

"And when there are only three months left to avert disaster, that's really not excellent tactics."

However, shadow chancellor John McDonnell later said Labour had won a "victory in forcing the prime minister to set a date for the meaningful vote".

He added: "Jeremy has taken the sense of the House of Commons which is clearly demanding a vote this week. Fair enough, we're now going for it."

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