A beleaguered Theresa May today claimed that the no-confidence vote in her leadership may lead to the delay or cancellation of Brexit.
This morning, it was announced that at least 48 disgruntled Conservative Party MPs had written letters of protest in support of ousting the Prime Minister.
May, who cancelled her meeting with Leo Varadkar in Dublin today as a result, has vowed to contest the vote of confidence and warned this morning that removing her as prime minister risks extending Brexit or even cancelling the UK’s withdrawal entirely.
Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 committee of the Conservative Party, announced Wednesday morning that a vote on May’s position – which will take place later this evening – was triggered.
Outside 10 Downing Street, a defiant Theresa May argued that the Labour Party would be the only beneficiaries of a vote of no confidence.
“I will contest that vote with everything I’ve got,” she said.
Mrs May added of the possibility of Labour entering power: “One of their first acts would have to be extending or rescinding Article 50 … delaying or even stopping Brexit.”
Over 100 Tory MPs, including many key cabinet ministers, have voiced their support for May on Twitter while less than 10 have openly stated their intention to vote against May.
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said: “I am backing the prime minister 100% – and I urge every Conservative MP to do the same. She is battling hard for our country and no one is better placed to ensure we deliver on the British people’s decision to leave the EU.”
Anna Soubry, a Tory MP campaigning for a second referendum, said: “We don’t need to change PM but the PM must change course. Get the vote back next week. And when it’s lost take this matter back to the people.”
Meanwhile, Nadine Dorries, a Brexiteer Tory MP, said: “If MPs with small majorities vote to keep the Prime Minister tonight, they will be voting to secure her in place for the next 12 months, which means she will very likely lead us into the next General Election. Labour will be hoping and praying that we all wimp out.”
May has been attacked from all political avenues by her management of Brexit.
Hard-line Brexiteers – the Euroskeptic European Research group for led by Jacob Rhys-Mogg for example – believe her deal does not make a complete enough break with the bloc, insisting that the backstop agreement – intended to prevent a hard border in Ireland – keeps the UK tied perpetually to the EU’s single market.
The Democratic Union Party, who prop up the Conservative Party in government, have said that the inclusion of the backstop arrangement – which they say creates a border across the Irish sea – means they will vote against her deal if no modifications are made.
May has recently suffered two humiliating defeats in Parliament. Last week, in unprecedented scenes, the House of Commons voted her in contempt of Parliament for failing to release the advice the Attorney General had provided her on Brexit.
On Monday, she postponed a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement she had negotiated with the European Union. She acknowledged that “if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin.”
May needs to win 158 votes from among the 315 Conservative members of Parliament to remain as party leader and prime minister.
“A change in leadership in the Conservative Party now will put our country at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it,” May said today. “Weeks spent tearing ourselves apart would only create more division, when we should be standing together.”
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