UK's PM May survives party leadership challenge

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  • Wed, 12/12/2018 - 14:23
British PM to face vote of no confidence in her leadership of party
  • EFE

UK's PM May survives party leadership challenge on Wednesday after a no confidence vote was in the air threatening her leadership of the Conservative Party.

May obtained 200 votes in favor and 117 against in a secret ballot to which all the deputies of the "Tory" group were called in the House of Commons.

The ruling Conservative Party has enough support to challenge Theresa May's leadership, said a statement by Sir Graham Brady, a member of the 1922 Committee parliamentary group.

The vote took place between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m GMT Wednesday in Room 14 of the House of Commons, the statement said. If May loses, the Conservatives will elect a new leader through an internal process. If she wins, the party will be barred from holding a similar the vote for a year, according to its rules.

"The votes will be counted immediately afterward and the result will be announced as soon as possible in the evening," Brady added.

"The threshold of 15 percent (48 letters) of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded", according to the press release.

The letters came in the middle of a crisis generated by May's decision to delay the crucial vote on the Brexit agreement.. May postponed the vote after eurosceptic Tories and opposition members expressed disagreement with the deal. 

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister contacted European leaders to try to secure concessions intended to persuade parliament to approve the agreement.
Following the announcement, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, tweeted "I am backing @theresa_may tonight. Being PM is the most difficult job imaginable right now and the last thing the country needs is a damaging and long leadership contest.

"Brexit was never going to be easy but she is the best person to make sure we actually leave the EU on March 29," Hunt added.

"The last thing our country needs right now is a Conservative Party leadership election, which will be seen as self-indulgent and wrong. PM has my full support and is the best person to ensure we leave EU on 29 March," said Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The leaders of the eurosceptic European Research Group, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker, issued a joint statement saying "Theresa May's plan would bring down the government if carried forward. But our Party will rightly not tolerate it.

"Conservatives must now answer whether they wish to draw ever closer to an election under Mrs. May's leadership. In the national interest, she must go," they added.

Eurosceptic conservative lawmakers attempted to challenge May's leadership last month but failed to reach the required number of letters from MPs to trigger a contest.

Germany's chancellor on Wednesday said she was working hard to ensure the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union was orderly but underlined the common stance among the bloc's leaders that there was no room for renegotiation on the deal. 

Angela Merkel addressed the Bundestag, the country's lower house of parliament, a day after meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. 
"We still have time, although it may be short," she said, insisting that nonetheless, an orderly Brexit was achievable.

The UK is due to leave the EU on Mar. 29, 2019. 

May is to face a leadership challenge from her own Conservative Party backbenchers later on Wednesday. 

Theresa May, the increasingly embattled leader of the minority Tory government, told reporters outside 10 Downing Street that the timing of the bid could imperil the UK's future. 

"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," May said in a hastily scheduled speech outside her official residence. 

She said the vote risked handing Brexit decision making to members of the Labour Party opposition, led by Jeremy Corbyn. 

"The new leader would not have the time to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and get the legislation through parliament by Mar. 29," she added, referring to the date the UK is officially scheduled to leave the bloc.

"So one of their first acts would have to be extending or rescinding Article 50, delaying or even stopping Brexit when people want us to get on with it," she added. 

An affiliation of conservative lawmakers known as the European Research Group, which has lobbied for a harder Brexit, mounted the leadership challenge after securing the necessary 48 signatures.

May will need the backing of at least 158 conservative Members of Parliament to see off the challenge.

The Spanish prime minister on Wednesday ruled out any room for renegotiating the terms of United Kingdom's draft plan for leaving the European Union, including the clauses on the UK and Spain's future relationship over the British territory of Gibraltar, located on the southwestern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.

Following confirmation British PM Theresa May would face a no-confidence vote in her leadership of the Conservative Party, Pedro Sánchez said Spain's position on the Brexit deal would not shift and nor would the EU's in a debate in the congress of deputies, the lower house of parliament in Spain.

"The government has thought through all possible scenarios in order to protect our interests," Sánchez said. "Establishing contingency plans in the event of a deal or no deal Brexit," he added.


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