The Yorkshire Post says: Brexit and a defining test of leadership as Theresa May survives no confidence vote

THERESA May was quite right when she said that the country expects 'responsible leadership and pragmatic statesmanship' from its party leaders after the Tories defeated the no confidence motion tabled by Labour's Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to force an early election over Brexit.

Theresa May addresses MPs during the no confidence debate.
Theresa May addresses MPs during the no confidence debate.

Yet, while the Prime Minister and Opposition leader did trade familiar lines before Defra Secretary Michael Gove’s tour de force, the public will have been incredulous at the lack of urgency 24 hours after Mrs May’s Brexit deal suffered the heaviest defeat in Commons history.

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What did they see? Mr Corbyn unable to make a significant impact when the Government is in such disarray and the Prime Minister giving little indication about how she intends to operate a cross-party consensus as the EU becomes fearful about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit on March 29.

To a certain extent, 
the Tory leader could 
not do so until she had secured Parliament’s tentative authority to continue leading this country. But time is not 
on her side.


Nearly 1,000 days after Britain voted to leave the EU, Parliament is no nearer to finalising the terms of departure in just 10 weeks’ time, because too many politicians on all sides appear to be putting self-interest first.

And it can’t carry on like this as Mrs May seeks the counsel of her EU counterparts before returning to the House of Commons on Monday to set out her preferred way forward.

Not only will she have to indicate if she has Cabinet backing, but it was right of the Prime Minister to invite all Opposition leaders to play a part in this process – it is no good mocking Mr Corbyn’s obfuscation if he is not afforded the chance to participate as a basic courtesy.

For, while Mrs May’s modus operandi has been to delay difficult decisions wherever possible, the time is also rapidly approaching when Parliament will need to address one point that is fundamental to the whole Brexit process.

It is whether MPs still intend Britain to leave the EU this March – some of Mrs May’s answers were more ambiguous than previous responses – or whether Article 50 will have to be put on hold and, in doing so, spark fears from Leave supporters that Parliament intends to thwart the will of the people. How this dilemma is reconciled will offer an early indication on the next move over Brexit, assuming, of course, leaders on all sides rise to the challenge instead of hanging the PM out to dry.