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Ahead of no-confidence vote, U.K. leader Theresa May says she won't lead party in next election

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By F. Brinley Bruton and Reuters  with NBC News World News
Image: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street, in Lo
Prime Minister Theresa May survived efforts to remove her as head of her party. Now she has to find a solution to the Brexit mess.   -   Copyright  Peter Nicholls

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May has told lawmakers in the ruling Conservative party that she will not lead them into the next general election, one member of Parliament said.

May was speaking ahead of a vote on her leadership of the party, which is due to begin at 6 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET). Voting is expected to take about two hours.

"I will contest that vote with everything I've got," May said outside the prime minister's official residence on Wednesday morning after the vote was announced.

The move to oust May comes as lawmakers struggle to decide what the relationship between the U.K. and the European Union will look like after the March 29 Brexit deadline.

It isn't just May's leadership at stake, but how the U.K. exits the E.U., and whether Britain retains a close relationship with Europe, leaves with more independence or crashes out without agreeing a deal.


Earlier this week, the prime minister was forced to postpone a pivotal parliamentary vote on the deal she negotiated with the E.U. and was forced to postpone it.

Most British lawmakers hate the deal, with hardline Brexit supporters in May's own party accusing her of selling out.

But many of those same politicians have seemed reluctant to depose May altogether, fearing further chaos or even the prospect of the opposition Labour Party gaining power.

May took over as leader of the Conservatives — and the country — in July 2016, when David Cameron stepped down in the wake of the Brexit referendum. Cameron had called the vote in an effort to resolve the issue of the U.K.'s relationship with the E.U. — something that has divided the Conservatives for decades.

At the time May pledged to honor the referendum result.

She called an election in June 2017, seeking to consolidate her position and allow her to deliver Brexit.

Instead the Conservatives lost a slew of seats to Labour, leaving the fate of Brexit — and May — uncertain.