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UK PM Theresa May to contest no confidence vote 'with everything I've got'

Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May will face a vote of no-confidence on Wednesday triggered by her own party lawmakers over her handling of the controversial Brexit deal.

Reported by: PTI, London [ Published on: December 12, 2018 19:01 IST ]
British PM, Theresa May

British PM, Theresa May

Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May will face a vote of no-confidence on Wednesday triggered by her own party lawmakers over her handling of the controversial Brexit deal, as she vowed to fight the latest challenge to her leadership with "everything I have got".

May is set to face a vote of no-confidence in her leadership after the required 48 MPs from her Conservative Party filed letters with the influential 1922 Committee, which represents rank-and-file Conservative MPs in the House of Commons.

"I will contest that vote with everything I have got," May said in a statement at Downing Street, warning that the leadership challenge will delay or even cancel Brexit.

"I stand ready to finish the job," the 62-year-old prime minister said.

May, who has been prime minister since shortly after the UK voted to leave the 28-member European Union in June, 2016, has faced criticism in her party for the Brexit plan she has negotiated.

The vote will take place in the form of a secret ballot on Wednesday evening. May will need to convince a majority of MPs (158 out of 315 Conservative MPs) to be able to win the vote and then her leadership cannot be challenged for a year.

However, if she loses, the party will have to elect a new leader who will then go on to become the next British Prime Minister.

The challenge to her leadership has been brought by Conservative MPs who think May has watered down the Brexit voters were promised in the landmark referendum held in 2016.

May had seen off an attempt by this group of Brexiteers to get rid of her last month.

The latest leadership challenge comes as she was desperately trying to rescue her Brexit deal as she tried to convince European Union (EU) leaders to offer some concessions to convince Britain's MPs to vote for it on Tuesday, a day after she postponed a crucial parliamentary vote scheduled for this week over the Withdrawal Agreement struck with the EU.

She was due to travel to Dublin on Wednesday but will now remain in London to contest the no-confidence vote. 

In her statement delivered early on Wednesday, May said: "A leadership election would not change the fundamentals of the negotiation or the Parliamentary arithmetic.

"Weeks spent tearing ourselves apart will only create more division just as we should be standing together to serve our country. None of that would be in the national interest."

She said she was making progress in her talks with EU leaders and vowed to "deliver on the referendum vote and seize the opportunities that lie ahead".

The Conservatives had to build a "country that works for everyone" and deliver "the Brexit people voted for".

"I have devoted myself unsparingly to these tasks ever since I became prime minister and I stand ready to finish the job."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who held talks with May Brussels on Tuesday, said the EU would not "renegotiate" the deal but there was room for "further clarifications".

"The deal that we have achieved is the best deal possible, it is the only deal possible," he reiterated.

Britain's MPs have to give the go-ahead for May's deal if it is to come into effect when the UK leaves the EU on Brexit Day – March 29, 2019.

But deep divisions remain on all sides of the House of Commons over the so-called "backstop", a temporary customs arrangement designed to prevent the need for checkpoints at the Irish border if a long-term solution between the UK and EU cannot be agreed post-Brexit.

Critics of the arrangement are unhappy that under the terms of the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement, the UK cannot exit the backstop without the EU agreeing to it, which could effectively leave the UK bound by EU customs laws beyond Brexit.

Downing Street had said a House of Commons vote on the agreement will be held on the deal before January 21, as that is the deadline enshrined in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. That deadline now looks more and more uncertain.

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