UK PM Theresa May ends tour without EU Brexit concessions

Dec 13, 2018, 00:00
UK PM Theresa May ends tour without EU Brexit concessions

The prime minister has said that she will "contest leadership vote with everything I have got". The result is due around 9 pm (2100 GMT).

She added: "I think markets are most concerned that the United Kingdom could leave on March 29 without a deal in place, which many people think would be damaging for the economy and when we get that sort of muse then the pound suffers".

If she wins, there cannot be another challenge for a year.

Briefing EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, on this week's leader's summit, Juncker said Tuesday that "there is no room whatsoever for renegotiation" of the divorce deal. EU leaders insist the mechanism can't be removed from deal, but May is sure to seek flexibility on this point from her European partners.

The chair of that committee issued a statement Wednesday morning saying that he had received 48 letters, enough to initiate the process, and therefore a vote will be held between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., with the results announced at 9 p.m.

"This government is a farce, the Tory party is in chaos, the prime minister is a disgrace", Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford said during a pugnacious Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons. The Conservatives would put forward two candidates for leadership - whittled down after a round of votes by MPs if there are more than two candidates.

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She could be toppled if a simple majority of 317 Conservative MPs vote against her, though a large rebellion could also leave her fatally weakened.

"The size of the vote does matter", said polling expert John Curtice.

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.

May has not said what she will do if, as many expect, there is an early election triggered by Britain's Brexit crisis. She will remain leader, and prime minister, until the successor is picked.

With less than four months left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29, May's Brexit deal is floundering, opening up prospects that run the gamut from a disorderly no-deal divorce to calling Brexit off. If she loses, she must resign and is barred from standing in the leadership election that follows.

So many British lawmakers oppose the deal on the terms of Britain's breakup and future relationship with the European Union that May postponed a planned vote in the House of Commons instead of seeing it rejected.

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Nonetheless, the 62-year-old has proved to be a stubborn political survivor, hanging on to power amid fierce internal and external opposition, and despite a disastrous general election in June 2017.

The final pair then go to a postal ballot of all party members, with the position of leader - and prime minister - going to the victor. Two members who were under party suspension for alleged misconduct prior to Wednesday were permitted to vote in the ballot.

If the Brexit agreement is accepted by the U.K. Parliament, it must still be endorsed by the European Parliament before March 29. But she would be weaker - lonelier - and with less authority to drive her Brexit compromise through.

May cancelled a trip to Dublin on Wednesday for talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar amid the leadership challenge.

The British government says it plans to bring the deal, with whatever changes May achieves, back to Parliament for a vote before Jan 21. She started by sounding tough, by laying down a number of "red lines" about what she would or won't accept as part of the separation talks with the European Union.

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