Theresa May clings on as Prime Minister after winning vote of no confidence
Theresa May has survived a significant rebellion by her own MPs to continue as Prime Minister.
Conservative MPs voted by 200 to 117 in the secret vote of confidence on Wednesday night. The result means the Prime Minister cannot be challenged for another 12 months.
Speaking shortly after the vote, Mrs May accepted that a “significant” number of Tory MPs had voted against her but said she now wanted to “get on with the job”.
Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, was met with cheers and applause as he announced the result to a room of press and MPs.
But rebel Tories immediately claimed the result was a ‘terrible one’ for the PM and called for her to quit.
Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said Mrs May should resign “as soon as the Queen has a moment in her diary to see her”.
He added: “It’s a terrible result for the Prime Minister, it really is.”
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Tonight’s vote makes no difference to the lives of our people.
“The Prime Minister has lost her majority in Parliament, her government is in chaos and she is unable to deliver a Brexit deal that works for the country and puts jobs and the economy first.”
Mrs May, who has vowed to stand down before the 2022 general election, had needed 159 votes in her favour to win the ballot and stay in power. After the vote, she said a Brexit which “brings the country back together rather than entrenching division” was needed.
“That must start here in Westminster with politicians on all sides coming together and acting in the national interest,” she added.
A party still at war
Throughout Wednesday more than 180 Tories publicly said they would vote to keep Mrs May in her job, compared to around 35 who said they would vote to bring her down.
Mrs May earlier warned a change of Prime Minister would put the UK’s future at risk – or could even stop Brexit altogether.
The ballot was triggered after 48 MPs, including prominent Brexiteers and European Research Group (ERG) members Steve Baker and Rees-Mogg, submitted letters of no confidence in their leader.
And though Mrs May has survived the leadership challenge, her party remains riven in two.
On top of Mr Rees-Moggs comments, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said that his party has “missed an opportunity” by not getting rid of Theresa May.
Backing Mrs May, Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said calls for her to resign had been “completely absurd”.
Defence minister Tobias Ellwood suggested that members of the hard Brexiteer ERG should consider their position in the event that the coup to oust May failed.
“They have tried for the second time to thwart the prime minister’s ambitions,” he said. “They should fall in line. Unless they do they should ask themselves if should they be part of the party.”
MP Sarah Wollaston echoed the sentiment, saying: “I hope the ERG loose badly and we can see the back of their pompous threats for a year.”
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, earlier labelled some of the rebels ‘extremists’.
Having shored up her position, the Prime Minister will now return to Brussels in a last-ditch attempt to secure concessions on the Brexit deal she negotiated with the EU.
She will then put her deal to MPs for a ‘meaningful vote’ before 20 January.
Her decision to postpone the vote by MPs on the deal in the face or a humiliating defeat was the final impetus for a number of Conservatives to submit letters of no confidence in her leadership.
Mrs May insisted earlier she would stay on to “finish the job” she has set herself as Prime Minister of addressing priorities like the economy, public services and housing as well as delivering on the result of the 2016 referendum.
Nigel Dodds, Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, tweeted: “The message from tonight is very clear. The (Irish) Backstop must go.”