Theresa May Hangs On as Brexit Date Looms

Theresa May went to bed last night still in the role of British Prime Minister. And, much to her detractors’ fury – the leadership challenge yesterday was anything like a close call.

May received 200 votes of confidence in her leadership of the Tory Party with 117 against her continuing. By gaining the majority of 83 MPs she has the backing of 63 per cent of her party. And it means too that she will continue in her attempts to get her Brexit deal through parliament, after speaking to EU leaders for ‘clarity.’

May ‘safe’ for another 12 months

The leadership result means May can’t be challenged for leadership of the Conservative Party again for another year. She did, however, state prior to the leadership result that it was not her intention to go into the next general election in 2022 as Conservative leader, having already made up her mind to stand down before this. She declined, however, to provide a specific date for when she would resign from her current leadership role.

Last night’s result leaves her detractors – led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who called for a no confidence vote on Monday – in an even weaker position than before in trying to get a more ‘right wing-pleasing’ Brexit deal.’

Brexit deal still faces widescale rejection

Meanwhile May still faces an uphill battle to get her current Brexit deal adopted by the British parliament. She already backed out from presenting it to parliament for a vote last week, knowing it would be overwhelmingly rejected. Both the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Scottish National Party (SNP) have already voiced their concerns.

The DUP are objecting to the Irish backstop (permanent hard border) while the SNP want to remain in the single market (as well as the EU as a whole).

After triggering Article 50 two years ago, the United Kingdom has less than four months to attempt to iron out Brexit difficulties. That’s because the four nations of the UK are due to officially leave on March 29.

The Irish question remains…

Today (Thursday) the Prime Minister is due to arrive at the European Parliament to ask for a ‘temporary’ Irish backstop – one which is legally binding. However, it is highly dubious whether the EU will agree. They have already warned her that if there was No Deal there would have to be an armed border between Northern and Southern Ireland (the latter being a separate state and remaining part of the European Union.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party had already warned the Conservative Party Leader about “tinkering around the edges” of the agreement on the Irish border. She added: “We were not seeking assurances or promises. We wanted fundamental legal text changes.”

Labour demanding timescale of Brexit vote in parliament

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile pressed May to answer him as to when she will resent the Brexit Deal to parliament so that all parties can vote on it.

The Labour leader accused her angrily of treating parliament in a “totally and utterly unacceptable” way; and pressed her to say when she will stage the delayed “meaningful vote” on her Brexit deal.