BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

May tells MPs she will not run for PM in next election to survive confidence vote

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 Theresa May outside 10 Downing Street, London on Dec 12, 2018.
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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May told her Conservative Party's lawmakers that she will not lead them into the 2022 general election ahead of a crucial vote of confidence in her leadership, MPs revealed.

The British leader went on to win the challenge against her with 200 votes for and 117 against.

May made the commitment to shore up support for her leadership as she addressed her MPs on Wednesday evening ahead of the secret ballot that could have seen her removed from power.

Deputy Chairman James Cleverly told reporters after the meeting that May "recognises a lot of people are not comfortable with her leading us into a future general election."

George Freeman, an MP present at the 1922 Committee gathering, described the scene as a "powerful and moving moment."

"The PM makes clear that she has listened, heard and respects the will of the Party that once she has delivered an orderly Brexit, she will step aside for the election of a new Leader to lead the reunification and renewal we need," Freeman tweeted.

The vote

The British leader had been dogged by rumours of a leadership challenge since her party's botched general elections last year in which it lost its parliamentary majority.

Calls for her resignation then grew as dissatisfaction with her Brexit strategy increased. But it was her eleventh-hour-decision to postpone Parliament's "meaningful vote" on the Withdrawal Agreement initially scheduled for December 11 that was the last straw.

The motion against her was triggered after at least 48 of her MPs wrote to the chair of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, to demand a vote of confidence.

The result

But May survived to live another political day and as per her party's rulebook, cannot be challenged again for a year.

However the result — 200 MPs backed her, 117 voted against her — failed to unite her lawmakers behind her.

For loyalists the result was decisive with Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd describing it as "strong," Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss painting it as "convincing" and Justice Minister David Gauke labelling it a "very comfortable victory."

But others said the vote accentuated May's status as politically wounded as 30% of her lawmakers attempted to remove her from power.

MP Mark Francois told the BBC that the result was a "devastating verdict" on May while Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG), said it was "terrible" and urged May "to make way for someone who does" have the backing of the party's backbenches.

Brexit

Furthermore, the political victory for May was short-lived.

On Thursday morning, she jetted into Brussels to meet with other EU leaders in the hope of securing some concessions on the Irish backstop arrangement despised by her backbenchers.

But the EU has been clear that it would not reopen negotiations. At best, May could perhaps get firmer language in the Political Declaration stating that the bloc would prefer to avoid the backstop kicking in and will do their best to find an alternative solution during a planned transition period.

That is unlikely to convince May's rebel MPs and therefore change the outcome of Parliament's vote on the deal, now expected to take place before January 21.

Steve Baker, the ERG deputy chair, set the tone on British television last night, saying the result of the confidence vote means "we'll be grinding miserably forward, supporting the Prime Minister's leadership and opposing the Prime Minister's Brexit policy."

If British lawmakers do not back the deal in Parliament, the country is then expected to leave the EU without a deal.

May has also warned her lawmakers that opposing the deal could "delay or even stop Brexit" following a ruling from the EU's top court that Britain could unilaterally reverse Article 50 which set in motion the country's divorce from the bloc.

It could also lead to the main opposition Labour party tabling its own motion of no confidence in the government, potentially triggering new general elections.