Dec. 12 (UPI) — British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote by members of her Conservative Party Wednesday, amid her beleaguered plan to leave the European Union.
A majority of Conservative members of parliament backed May as the leader of the Tory Party by a vote of 200-117 in a secret ballot after she indicated she would step down as prime minister before the 2022 election, The Guardian reported.
May spoke publicly on Downing Street, noting a “significant number” of MPs voted against her, while vowing to get on with the Brexit deal.
“Tonight’s vote of confidence in the Prime Minister Theresa May, is the right one. Now is the time to focus on the future. Her deal means we will honor the referendum result while safeguarding jobs and maintaining business confidence,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond wrote on Twitter.
Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement, saying the vote “makes no difference to the lives of our people,” adding May had “lost her majority in parliament” and her government was left “in chaos.”
“That’s why she pulled the vote on her botched Brexit deal this week and is trying to avoid bringing it back to parliament. It’s clear that she has not been able to negotiate the necessary changes in Europe,” he said. “She must now bring her dismal deal back to the House of Commons next week so parliament can take back control.”
The movement for the no-confidence vote was galvanized when May abandoned a vote Tuesday in the House of Commons on her Brexit deal after acknowledging it didn’t have enough support, The Independent reported.
“I will contest that vote with everything I have got,” she said Wednesday.
“A change of leadership in the Conservative Party now would put our country’s future at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it,” she added. “A new leader wouldn’t be in place by the 21 January legal deadline, so a leadership election risks handing control of the Brexit negotiations to opposition MPs in parliament.”
“The new leader wouldn’t have time to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and get the legislation through parliament by [the March 29 deadline].”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the Euroskeptic group of backbench Conservatives, called May’s Brexit deal “undeliverable” and blasted her handling of the negotiations.
“This is not governing, it risks putting [Labor Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn into government by failing to deliver Brexit,” Rees-Mogg said, Politico’s Europe edition reported. “We cannot continue like this. The prime minister must either govern or quit.”
Lawmakers won’t be able to hold another no-confidence vote for 12 months — a virtual guarantee May will stick around for the completion of Brexit negotiations.