Conservative Lawmakers Begin Theresa May Confidence Vote


Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May will face a vote of no-confidence triggered by her own party lawmakers over her controversial Brexit deal, as she vowed to fight it out with "everything I have got". If Mrs May loses the vote of her MPs, she will remain as a caretaker prime minister while her party chooses a successor, who will become both party leader and Britain's new prime minister.

Britain's ruling Conservatives have been divided for years over the European Union question, with younger MPs being largely in favour of leaving it, while older ones tended to be more supportive of it.

If she does not win the vote there would then be a Conservative leadership contest in which she could not stand. The victor of that contest, as leader of the largest party in Parliament, will be invited by Queen Elizabeth II to form a new government. The 2016 referendum on the European Union was meant to heal these divides; instead, the narrow majority for Brexit, which the referendum delivered, only helped to tear the Conservatives further apart.

The vote by Conservative Party members will be held between 1800 GMT and 2000 GMT, and the results will be "announced as soon as possible in the evening", according to Graham Brady, the head of the so-called 1922 Committee.

Some pro-Brexit members of May's' Conservatives said Tuesday that opponents had collected the 48 letters from party lawmakers needed to trigger a no-confidence vote in their leader.

But the hard line Brexit supporters who triggered the vote because they saw her deal as a betrayal of the 2016 referendum said she should now quit.

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The party membership would vote via a postal ballot on which of the two candidates should be party leader. The victor of the vote becomes Conservative leader and prime minister, without the need for a national election. "She must now bring her dismal deal back to the House of Commons next week so Parliament can take back control".

In her speech following Brady's announcement, May also said a change of leader would wreak havoc on Britain's exit from the EU.

May remains prime minister and party leader until a replacement is chosen.

"She said that she did not intend to lead us into the 2022 election", lawmaker Alec Shelbrooke said, adding "her opening remarks were, "I am not going to hold a snap election".

Chancellor Philip Hammond said, "I'm very clear that the prime minister will have the support of the great majority of parliamentary colleagues".

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, who is campaigning for a further referendum, told BBC Radio 2 she hoped Mr Rees-Mogg's group would "get a kicking" in the vote and that their "pompous gesturing" will be exposed.

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Rumors of an internal party coup have been swirling for weeks as May struggled to sell her contentious Brexit deal to Parliament and the country.

Britain's Brexit negotiator quit May's government on Thursday in protest at her draft exit agreement, saying it did not match the promises the Conservative Party made at a 2017 election. If only one candidate comes forward, he or she becomes leader.

If the Brexit agreement is accepted by the U.K. Parliament, it must still be endorsed by the European Parliament before March 29.

"A change of leadership in the Conservative Party now will put our country's future at risk", May said in a defiant statement outside 10 Downing St.

Several leading Brexiteers, including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, have said loudly that they think they could get a better deal with the European Union and are likely to enter a race to replace her.

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