May needed to secure at least 158 votes from the Conservatives to remain as leader of the party and managed to do so with a firm margin. Addressing the press outside Downing Street, May acknowledged that a “significant number” of her MPs voted against her, but welcomed the outcome.
Following this ballot, we now have to get on with the job of delivering Brexit for the British people and building a better future for this country.
Yet the opposition remained skeptical, with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn issuing a statement stressing that the vote “makes no difference” and that May must bring her “dismal deal” to the House of Commons next week “so parliament can take back control.”
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.
Fearing a defeat of the deal she’d struck with the EU last month, the 62-year-old leader cancelled a parliamentary vote on the divorce agreement on Monday, promising to hold it by January 21. In the meantime, she pledged to seek extra guarantees from Brussels to make sure her Brexit roadmap is accepted by the parliament.
Faced with a vote of confidence triggered by 48 Conservative MPs, May made a last-minute appeal for support earlier on Wednesday. Expressing her firm commitment to Brexit, she said that she would not lead the party into the next election in 2022.
I realise that the party would like a different leader to take them into that election.
Despite remaining in power on Wednesday, May still faces stiff opposition, mainly focused on the backstop arrangement between EU member-state Ireland and UK-governed Northern Ireland to prevent a hard border and customs monitoring after the UK leaves the European Union. Critics fear that the temporary measure will become permanent as London and Brussels are nowhere near signing a new free trade agreement.
“I don’t think this vote really changes very much in terms of the arithmetic on that and that’s our concern,” Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party told BBC. “Our concerns are about the legally binding nature of the indefinite arrangements that we would be tied into and the difficulties that would pose for Northern Ireland.”
Ahead of vote, May Say She May Step Down
Entering the meeting with Conservative MPs in a Westminster committee room ahead of the crucial vote, May was met with applause and the traditional banging of desks from some sections of her party.
A reportedly emotional May accepted that she was too unpopular to fight another general election campaign, set for 2022.
“It’s not my intention to lead the party into the 2022 election,” the beleaguered May said then, according to the BBC.
Brexiteer and key figure in the plot to oust May, Jacob Rees-Mogg wasn’t so keen on her speech. Stating that May only received a “half-hearted” reception, commenting that ‘intention’ was a “politician’s word.”
The Prime Minister allegedly did not rule out leading the Tories in a snap election, which many commentators have speculated could be called amid the Brexit chaos. May significantly weakened her grip on power when she lost the Conservatives’ majority in the 2017 snap-General Election.