London, Dec 13 (IANS) UK Prime Minister Theresa May was on Thursday heading to Brussels for an EU summit after surviving a vote of no confidence triggered by members of her own ruling Conservative Party over her handling of Brexit.
May will be seeking legally binding pledges from EU leaders on the “backstop” — the plan to avoid a return to a manned Northern Ireland border, the BBC reported.
The EU says it will not renegotiate the backstop but may agree to greater assurances on its temporary nature. At Thursday’s summit, May will have an opportunity to spell out face-to-face the problems to leaders of all the other 27 member states.
After winning 200 votes to 117 or 63 per cent of the total ballots on Wednesday night, May is now immune from a leadership challenge for a year. But in a last-minute pre-vote move, she offered a promise to her MPs that she would step down before the next election in 2022.
The result was met with cheers from MPs as it was announced by Graham Brady, an MP who leads the 1922 Committee which represents Conservative Party backbench lawmakers in the House of Commons.
Speaking in Downing Street after the vote, May vowed to deliver the Brexit “people voted for” but said she had heard the concerns of MPs who voted against her. “I have listened to what they said… We now need to get on with the job of delivering Brexit.”
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that “her government is in chaos” and that the “vote makes no difference to the lives of our people”. He asked May to “bring her dismal deal back to the House of Commons next week so Parliament can take back control”.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said, despite the “high drama” of Wednesday, “nothing has really changed”.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said it was now up to May to listen to her party and “push the EU… to resolve the backstop”.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, meanwhile, tweeted “huge congrats to Theresa May whose stamina, resilience and decency has again won the day and given her the chance to deliver Brexit for our country.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond called the result “the right one”.
While May did win a majority, it does reveal that more than a third of Conservative MPs voted against her as Prime Minister.
The biggest challenge that May faces now is that she is stuck between a UK Parliament that will not vote through her Brexit deal and the EU, which will not reopen negotiations on that deal.
The confidence vote coincided with May’s tour of Europe where she met key EU leaders, asking them for help passing her Brexit deal through Parliament.
May was forced to postpone a vote on the deal on Monday when it became clear her bill would face a humiliating defeat.