Wounded May seeks European Union compromise to save Brexit deal


The British prime minister survived a confidence vote in her leadership, but a full third of her own party cast ballots against her, a big blow that means she will have an nearly impossible job getting her current Brexit deal approved by Parliament. She also said she wouldn't seek to call a General Election, which will come as a relief to many Tories.

Her position remains very shaky however as 117 MPs - more than on third of her party - voted against her last night. Labour said that they didn't want to pull the trigger too early, before Tory MPs or the DUP were willing to take down the government.

May will address EU leaders on Thursday night at the European Council summit in Brussels as she seeks to obtain further changes to the Irish backstop, created to avoid a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, but which has proved bitterly controversial among Conservative MPs.

By late afternoon, the number of Conservative lawmakers who had pledged to vote for May passed the 159 votes she needs to win - although nothing is certain in a secret ballot.

May's spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that "there will be no meaningful vote before Christmas", while the prime minister negotiates with her European Union counterparts.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar, who held a lengthy one-to-one meeting with Mrs May ahead of the main summit, said she had to honour her commitments on the backstop, meant to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Despite the near constant criticism, including from inside her own government, May has kept at it and compares herself to her cricketing hero Geoffrey Boycott, who was a byword for doggedness as a batsman.

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May's harshest critics supported her remaining leader, arguing a leadership race now would have been too disruptive. May has warned that if MPs vote down her plan the country risks crashing out on this date with no agreement.

In a threat to the same Brexiteers who have driven the challenge against her, May said the tight deadline may force a new leader to delay or even cancel Brexit.

At the very least it provides some certainty in that markets know the United Kingdom leader will remain unchanged during the crucial 2019 Brexit as a new leader might have been more inclined to opt for a "no deal" Brexit. Probably not. Those MPs nearly certainly don't want a General Election, which would put their jobs on the line and potentially see the most left-wing Labour leader ever get power. The moderates can see that May's withdrawal agreement allows them to use the transition period it would achieve to pursue their (and my) Norway Plus option, which would keep the U.K.in close economic alignment with the EU's legal and commercial order and which would limit disruption.

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Labour might feel like it's worth trying now that May is secure within her own party for the time being.

The result means she can not now be challenged for a year, giving her a respite and the chance to see Brexit delivered. Whichever way they voted, people in Portsmouth did not vote to be poorer'.

On Wednesday, Theresa May avoided defeat.

Asked whether she would step down after Brexit, she replied: "People try to talk about dates but what I'm clear about is the next general election is in 2022 and it's right that another party leader takes us into that general election".

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They're attempting to get this done before Democrats take control of the House at the beginning of the year. It's a critical and legitimate part of the entire justice system in the United States, ' Comey said .

But Nicholas Soames urged Brexiteers to "throw their weight" behind the PM as she sought to address the "grave concerns" many MPs had about aspects of the European Union deal.

May has bought herself some time, but not much.

"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 before the vote.

"I have heard what the House of Commons said about the Northern Ireland backstop and, when I go to the European council tomorrow, I will be seeking legal and political assurances that will assuage the concerns that members of parliament have on that issue", she said.

Conservative MPs were voting from 6.00pm to 8.00pm in a parliamentary committee room, with results of the confidence vote due at 9.00pm (5.00am Singapore time Thursday).

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