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  1. ITV Report

Theresa May safe as Conservative Party leader after winning no confidence vote

Theresa May has won a no confidence vote and will remain as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.

Speaking minutes after the result was announced, Mrs May said she was "grateful" to the MPs who had voted for her, but noted that a "significant" number of Tories had voted against her.

Of the 317 Tory MPs, 200 or 63%, voted in favour of the Prime Minister, while 117 or 37%, voted against her, giving her a majority of 83.

However, Mrs May sowed the seeds for her eventual departure by telling Tory MPs that she would not lead the party into the next general election, instead presenting herself as the person to see Brexit through, in a bid to win support in Wednesday's vote.

Currently the next general election is expected in 2022.

The result was announced by chair of the influential backbenchers 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

Mrs May's success means that her leadership cannot be challenged again for a year.

Speaking outside Downing Street following the results, Mrs May said she now had a "renewed mission - delivering the Brexit people voted for, bringing the country back together and building a country that really works for everyone".

Following the disunity in her party, the Prime Minister called for "politicians on all sides to come together and act in the national interest", and deal with the "issues that we came into politics to deal with", such as improving the economy and creating more jobs.

Mrs May added she would travel as planned to address EU leaders at the two-day European Council on Thursday in her quest to improve the Withdrawal Agreement.

After a day of drama in Westminster, Mrs May will travel to the Belgian capital still faced with the same dilemma she faced before it all took place: how to convince the EU to tweak the Withdrawal Agreement so that it will be passed by Parliament.

Speaking outside Downing Street on Wednesday, Mrs May said: "For my part I have heard what the House of Commons said about the Northern Ireland backstop.

"I go to the European Council tomorrow.

"I will be seeking legal and political assurances that will assuage the concerns that Members of Parliament have on that issue."

The Prime Minister had to secure the votes of 159 MPs - half the parliamentary party plus one - to remain as Conservative leader.

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston said the outcome of the vote was "not a great result for the Prime Minister", since "over half of independent Tory MPs voted against her - and even then she had to concede she would not lead the party into the next election".

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Robert Peston added that Wednesday's vote suggests that Mrs May will fail to get her Brexit deal through Parliament, since many of the MPs who did not back her, did so because they are opposed to her Brexit deal.

He continued that Mrs May could lose such a vote by a large margin, since the EU is unlikely to change the Withdrawal Agreement over the backstop arrangement, a sticking point for many MPs.

Robert Peston added that if no Brexit deal is agreed on by the deadline of January 21, then Parliament could take control, potentially resulting in the UK staying in the EU due to a large number of Remain-backing MPs.

  • Why was a no confidence vote triggered?

The ballot was triggered after Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the influential backbench 1922 Committee, received the threshold of 48 letters - 15% of the parliamentary party - needed to trigger a vote.

While confidence in Mrs May had been diminishing in recent weeks, with letters sent to Sir Graham reflecting this, it was the Prime Minister's decision to pull Tuesday's Brexit vote which prompted more letters to be sent and the threshold reached.

The vote was delayed as it looked highly unlikely that it would pass through the Commons, largely due to concerns with the Withdrawal Agreements backstop arrangements for the Irish border.

  • What is a no confidence vote and how many MPs' support does Theresa May need to win?
  • How have MPs reacted to the vote result?

Despite the Parliamentary Conservative Party backing Mrs May, she has still faced calls to resign.

Prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg - who openly stated he had submitted a letter of no confidence over Theresa May - said the result of the vote was "terrible" for Mrs May and she should resign.

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Rees-Mogg said the "payroll vote" of ministers, parliamentary aides and trade envoys all likely to have backed Mrs May meant that a majority of the remaining 160-170 backbenchers voted no confidence in her".

The chair of the European Research Group (ERG) (Tory MPs who are seeking a hard Brexit), added that Mrs May's Brexit deal was "a very bad deal" and Wednesday's vote reflected this.

Mr Rees-Mogg said Mrs May would not be able to get her Brexit deal through the House of Commons, meaning she had "lost the confidence of the Commons as a whole" and "ought to go to see the Queen urgently and resign".

A statement from the ERG predicted that if Mrs May's Brexit deal was voted on in the House of Commons, it would fail, the end result being a general election which Mrs May would lose.

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However, many other MPs backed the Prime Minister.

Chancellor Philip Hammond tweeted that the "right" result came out of the vote and that now the Prime Minister can "focus on the future" and carry on with Brexit.

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Work and Pesions Secretary Amber Rudd hailed Mrs May's win as "strong" and said the Government could "get on with the important work ahead".

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While Home Secretary Sajid Javid called for MPs to "come together" and "deliver" on Brexit.

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  • Where does Theresa May go from here?