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Theresa May heads to Brussels after winning vote of no confidence

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Theresa May heads to Brussels after winning vote of no confidence
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Theresa May heads to Brussels on Thursday for an EU summit, seeking "legal and political assurances" over the Irish backstop to try to win over MPs at home who oppose her Brexit deal.

The British Prime Minister won a crucial internal party vote of no confidence on Wednesday amid anger over the agreement she has negotiated with Brussels.

She won by 200 votes to 117, said Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers.

However, May still faces a monumental challenge in getting the deal through the UK parliament, whose formal approval is needed for it to take effect. The scale of the opposition forced her to postpone the "meaningful vote" which had been scheduled for earlier this week.

The party vote of no-confidence in May was triggered on Wednesday when it emerged enough Tory MPs had written to Brady.

May, speaking outside 10, Downing Street shortly afterwards, vowed to "contest that vote with everything I've got".

How did Theresa May react after winning the vote of confidence?

"This has been a long and challenging day but, at the end of it, I'm pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues in tonight's ballot," said May on the steps of 10, Downing Street.

"While I'm grateful for that support, a significant number of colleagues did cast a vote against me and I have listened to what they have said.

"For my part, I've heard what the House of Commons said about the Northern Ireland backstop and when I go to the European Council tomorrow, I will be seeking legal and political assurances that will assuage the concerns that members of parliament have on that issue."

How did MPs react in the hours leading up to the vote?

Despite the vote of no confidence going ahead, May still holds support from many of her fellow party members.

Arriving at the House of Commons for Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) just before midday on Wednesday, May was met with cheers as she entered the chamber.

Several Conservative MPs throughout the session voiced their displeasure at the scheduled vote.

Father of the House of Commons and Conservative MP Ken Clarke said the confidence vote was "unhelpful, irrelevant and irresponsible," which was met with cheers from the chamber.

Clarke, who is pro-Europe, has previously voiced his support of May's Brexit deal, saying it is preferable to a no-deal scenario.

His PMQs comments on Wednesday afternoon followed an earlier tweet in which he referred to politicians triggering the vote as "idiots," adding, "I said support the backstop and not the backstab."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn led the attack (see video, below) against May, saying her "behaviour today is contemptuous of this parliament," when she refused to confirm a new date for the delayed meaningful vote on the draft Brexit agreement.

"Theresa May's answer is unacceptable. This House agreed when the vote would take place. The Government has denied this House a vote," he said.

May said the date of the delayed vote would be announced in due course while she pursued discussions with EU leaders for assurances on her deal.

"The way to avoid no deal is to agree a deal," she added.

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