May to face no-confidence vote from her party
LONDON (AP) — British Conservative lawmakers forced a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Theresa May for Wednesday, throwing U.K. politics deeper into crisis and Brexit further into doubt.
May vowed to fight for the leadership of her party and the country “with everything I’ve got” after opponents who have been circling for weeks finally got the numbers they needed to spark a vote among Conservative Party lawmakers later in the day.
The leadership challenge marks a violent eruption of the Conservative Party’s decades-long divide over Europe.
The threat to May has been building as pro-Brexit lawmakers within the Conservative Party grew increasingly frustrated with the prime minister’s conduct of Brexit and the divorce deal she has agreed with the European Union.
The challenge throws Britain’s already rocky path out of the EU, which it is due to leave in March, into further chaos.
It comes days after May postponed a vote to approve the divorce deal to avoid all-but-certain defeat.
Many supporters of Brexit say May’s deal, a compromise that retains close economic ties with the EU, fails to deliver on the clean break with the bloc that they want.
Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson accused May of acting like a “supplicant” in dealings with the EU.
“She’s not the person to see Brexit through,” he said.
But in a defiant statement outside 10 Downing St., May said “a change of leadership in the Conservative Party now will put our country’s future at risk.”
She said ousting her and holding a leadership vote — a process that could take weeks — could result in Brexit being delayed or even stopped.
May, who spent Tuesday touring EU capitals to appeal for changes to sweeten the divorce deal for reluctant U.K. lawmakers, has until January 21, 2019 to hold a vote on her deal in Parliament, a timetable that could be scuttled if she is replaced.