Britain’sMay survivesMay faces bidup to to leadershipoust her challengeas PM
Opponents of Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, mounted a challenge against her leadership of the Conservative Party on Wednesday, a move that culminated in a secret ballot of the party’s members of Parliament Theresa later May in is the to evening. continue as British May prime said minister ahead of after the surviving challenge from a vote within of no confidence her own in party her leadership — a so-called from vote of members no confidence of her — own that the Conservative issue was a Party. distraction that could end The up vote, “delaying which or was even defeated stopping by Brexit” 200 votes and to insisted 117, was she brought would about “contest by her that own vote MPs, with everything unhappy at I have her got”. handling of the latest developments in She Britain’s had been attempt under to extricate pressure itself for months from the over European her handling Union, of the negotiations process known with as the Brexit. European Union about It came the United after a Kingdom’s long period pending of increasingly exit from public the bloc and at the vocal end tension of March. within the party about the issue She of said Brexit, changing but having party leader, finally and lost patience therefore and prime played minister, their would trump “put card, our Conservative country’s future Party rules at risk mean and create that May’s uncertainty opponents when cannot we can challenge least afford it”. her leadership again for another 12 months.
On Monday a parliamentary vote on her proposals for Brexit – which she was widely expected to lose emphatically - was postponed at short notice. The following day May went to visit European leaders in an effort to get further reassurances over the details of future plans for the status of the border between Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and EU member state the Republic of Ireland.
But even before she had arrived, EU leaders made it clear that they were unwilling to make any significant amendments to her proposals which She has they been had criticized already approved from all sides, last month, with some so her Conservative trip seemed MPs destined favoring to a end harder in disappointment. line with the EU, others Labour favoring warned that a softer if she line, did and not some come back hoping with to significant backtrack concessions, and remain they an EU would member. call for a vote of no confidence in the government, and many Conservatives also reacted angrily to her decision, with influential backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg calling it “a rotten and humiliating day for the government”.
On Wednesday morning, it was announced by Sir Graham Brady MP, the chairman of the influential backbench MPs group the 1922 Committee, that he had received sufficient letters from members of the parliamentary Conservative Party to pass the 15 percent threshold to trigger the vote of confidence in the leader.
May was defiant at the news, saying she “stood ready to finish the job” of Brexit and that “weeks spent tearing ourselves apart will only create more divisions”, and also warning that any change of leadership would Wednesday’s inevitably challenge lead to a postponement was triggered of when Britain’s the departure influential from 1922 the Committee EU, currently that scheduled oversees for party the rules end received of March the 2019. requisite 48 letters from Conservative The day saw Party party MPs tensions calling played for a leadership out in an increasingly vote. public way, with one MP, Andrew Bridgen, walking out of a live BBC television interview when a fellow Conservative MP, James Cleverly, was introduced.
When the vital moment came, however, the feeling of resentment necessary to unseat May was not present. Faced with a ballot paper containing the simple choice ‘I have confidence in Theresa May as leader of the Conservative party / I do not have confidence in Theresa May as leader of the Conservative party,’ MPs voted to stick with their leader, who took over the party in July 2016 following David Cameron’s resignation in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.
By grim irony, at the same time as the voting session at Westminster began, across London at Conservative Party head office, the Christmas party The was party taking has 315 place. MPs and May needed Despite the May support having of at survived least 158 the to hang vote, onto her troubles her job. are by no means at If an she end. survived She still Wednesday needs to night’s secure vote, parliamentary party rules backing would for prevent her Brexit the maverick proposals, MPs which wanting have to unseat proved her so from mounting another challenge for unpalatable at least a year. to many members of the The party, BBC’s and political having seen editor, the Laura extent Kuenssberg, of hostility that said she the vote, faces no from matter her the own outcome, side, the was opposition likely to slow Labour down Brexit Party deliberations. could still align themselves with Owen other Paterson, parties one including of the Conservative the Scottish MPs National who submitted Party and a call letter a to vote trigger of no the confidence leadership in challenge, the government, told the BBC: potentially “She is triggering sadly determined a general to election. stick to And her that deal eventually which is not might going prove to to get be through the end the of the House line of for Commons, May instead. and worse, if it did get through In that the scenario, House of whoever Commons, became she would the new lose head the of support government of the – DUP, and which indeed triggers for whichever a general party election.” – would find May themselves has been taking prime charge minister at a since time 2016, of political when she turmoil took the unparalleled reins in the in aftermath modern of British the UK’s history, referendum just weeks decision away from to leave Britain’s the EU. scheduled departure If she lost from in Wednesday the EU after night’s more vote, than 40 she years would of membership. not be allowed to stand With in the the potential leadership for even battle greater that would economic follow and and political likely turbulence last six weeks. than has already been seen, there would In the then hours be before an increased the leadership likelihood vote, more that the than scheduled 110 Tory MPs exit date had gone at the on end record of March saying 2019 they would would be support delayed May for more in the negotiations. challenge.