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European Union says it won’t budge on Brexit deal amid chaos in Britain

European Union says it won’t budge on Brexit deal amid chaos in Britain

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street this morning, Mrs May said: "I will contest that vote with everything I have got".

"The new leader would not have time to negotiate a new withdrawal agreement and get the legislation through parliament by the 29th of March".

The threshold of 48 letters calling for a leadership vote from Tory MPs was passed, triggering a vote of no confidence. It comes days after May postponed a vote to approve the divorce deal to avoid all-but-certain defeat in the House.

Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson accused May of acting like a "supplicant" in dealings with the EU.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt condemned the challenge as "the last thing the country needs".

May said changing Conservative leader would "put our country's future at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it".

MP Peter Bone said it was clear she had failed to win a majority of backbenchers, pointing out that ministers and the "payroll vote" amounted to more than 150 MPs.

The Conservatives had to build a "country that works for everyone" and deliver "the Brexit people voted for". If she loses, she must resign and is barred from standing in the leadership election that follows.

From the standpoint of domestic United Kingdom politics, the agreement satisfies few.

A challenge was triggered after 15 per cent of the Conservative members of parliament (MPs) wrote letters demanding a confidence vote to the chairman of the party's "1922 Committee", which represents those lawmakers who have no government jobs.

May could also be ousted by MPs from within her own Conservative Party and British media are full of speculation on potential contenders.

The vote will take place until 8pm, with the result announced soon afterwards.

If she had lost the confidence vote Mrs May would have been forced to stand down as Conservative Party leader, and then as prime minister.

But the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg said the result was "not at all comfortable" for the prime minister and a "real blow" to her authority.

If she wins the vote, however, her Tory foes would be unable to launch another leadership challenge against her for a year.

House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said: "Vital to support Theresa May today". If all elected lawmakers cast their ballots, that would now mean 158 votes. But allies said May would stay in post even if she secured a wafer-thin win.

She added: "None of that would be in the national interest".

The no confidence vote itself has once again exposed the division within the Conservative Party over the European Union, but a leadership contest would have amplified it.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who is known to have leadership aspirations, and his predecessor Amber Rudd, have also offered their support to the Prime Minister.

Ahead of the vote, cabinet colleagues rallied to May's support.

The PM is then scheduled to attend a summit of European leaders on Thursday at which she is likely to press for changes to elements of her Brexit deal to try to get the support of Parliament.

"Brexit was never going to be easy but she is the best person to make sure we actually leave the European Union on March 29".

George Freeman, a former May adviser who had urged her to promise to step down next year, said he would vote for her, as did the Harlow MP, Robert Halfon, who said the prime minister had promised to make social justice her first priority.

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