May's triumph in confidence vote is 'worst possible outcome' and leaves Tories 'grinding miserably forward', MP says

Steve Baker Credit: ITV/Peston

Theresa May's triumph in the confidence vote over her leadership is the "worst possible" outcome of the vote and will see the Conservative Party stuck in a vicious cycle of "grinding miserably forwards supporting the Prime Minister's leadership while opposing the Prime Minister's Brexit policy", an MP has said.

Steve Baker, the deputy chair of the pro-hard Brexit European Research Group (ERG) and one of the Conservative MPs who submitted a letter of no confidence in Theresa May, said that while the Prime Minister may have triumphed in the poll, he predicted she could end up in a similar situation to Margaret Thatcher and could see her own Cabinet calling on her to resign within a week.

In Wednesday's poll, Mrs May's Cabinet appeared to overwhelmingly back 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.

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

Appearing on ITV's Peston, Mr Baker said that while the Prime Minister may have won the support of her party, the overwhelming majority of MPs are still unhappy with her European Union Withdrawal Agreement, resulting in it likely being defeated in the House of Commons.

Speaking to ITV News' Political Editor, Mr Baker continued that he hoped the Brexit deal would soon be put to Parliament so that "it could be voted down", and then negotiations re-started with the EU.

Meanwhile DUP MP Nigel Dodds backed Mrs May to continue negotiating with the EU in a bid to seek assurances and changes to her deal that would ensure the current backstop arrangement would not leave the UK "trapped into arrangements that we can't get out of, that are indefinite and that create differences between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of customs and single market regulations".

Mrs May relies on the DUP to prop up her Government in key votes.

The deputy DUP leader appeared more conciliatory than in recent weeks, noting that the Prime Minister has been "sitting down with the DUP and acknowledging that there's an issue [with the backstop], that she's listening and prepared to go out and get those changes".

Mr Dodds continued that Europe was "digging in its heels over the changes" his party was seeking, but said if Mrs May could get them, then his party would support her deal in Parliament.

Due to the likelihood that many of her own MPs would rebel in a vote on the Brexit deal, Mrs May could also have to rely on the support of the Labour Party to pass it through the Commons, however, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire played down the chances of the Prime Minister seeking a cross-party arrangement with Labour MPs.

After former education secretary Nicky Morgan had told ITV's Peston that the Prime Minister "is going to have to appeal to MPs on all sides of the House" to get her deal through, Mr Brokenshire told the same programme that "the primary focus is clearly working with our Conservative colleagues and the DUP".

He continued: "We have already seen an MP from the Liberal Democrats coming across and supporting the deal and obviously there may be others that reach that conclusion.

"But ultimately it is about getting that majority in Parliament but also ensuring that we have that working relationship without DUP colleagues to move forward, to deliver on those other issues that she spoke about outside of Number 10, in terms of the domestic agenda."

Mr Brokenshire remained upbeat about Mrs May's chances of getting the Brexit deal through Parliament, predicting she would get the "assurances and clarifications" she was seeking from the EU.

However, if Mrs May does not get the concessions the opposition wants, shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggested that Labour could move a confidence motion next week.

He told Robert Peston that the party was "trying to behave as responsibly as we can" because the Prime Minister was still in negotiations, adding: "We will judge it day by day.

"In some ways we are giving her every opportunity to get a deal that works for the country and she hasn't done that.

"We will just have to judge what she comes back with on Sunday night, Monday morning, see what the statement is in the House of Commons on Monday and take a proper judgment then."