Theresa May has 10 minutes to pitch new Brexit deal in Brussels today

Theresa May today admitted she will not lead the Tories into the next general election, as she pleaded for the EU to help sell her Brexit deal to mutinous MPs.

The Prime Minister publicly conceded that although in her ‘heart’ she wants to fight on, her time in power is coming to an end as she arrived in Brussels for a crunch summit.

And she urged EU counterparts to make concessions on the Irish border backstop that can get the package ‘over the line’. 

‘I have said that in my heart I would love to be able to lead the Conservative Party into the next general election,’ she told reporters in the Belgian capital.

‘But I think it is right that the party feels that it would prefer to go into that election with a new leader.’

However, premier again refused to set a specific exit date, merely pointing out that the next election is scheduled for May 2022.  

Mrs May has acknowledged she must get ‘legally binding’ concessions from the bloc in the wake of the extraordinary Tory coup attempt yesterday which saw more than a third of her own MPs vote against her. 

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel today again flatly dismissed the prospect of renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement, while the Finnish PM warned the best she can hope for is ‘political’ assurances. 

And the hopes of any imminent progress receded further today as Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed that the crunch Brexit vote in parliament will not happen before Christmas.

Mrs May played down hopes of any shift soon, saying: ‘I don’t expect an immediate breakthrough, but what I do hope is that we can start to work as quickly as possible on the assurances that are necessary.’ 

After scraping through a Conservative no-confidence vote last night, an exhausted-looking Mrs May was given an encouraging farewell by husband Philip as she set off from Downing Street.  

She held talks with Irish PM Leo Varadkar and EU council president Donald Tusk this morning, as frantic efforts continue to find a breakthrough that can satisfy Parliament.

Cabinet ministers have warned they will kill off her fledgling deal unless there are ‘legally binding’ guarantees that the UK cannot get stuck in the Irish border backstop. 

The PM will lay out her problem to the heads of the 27 member states over dinner this evening, hoping that they can help. 

Theresa May publicly conceded that although in her 'heart' she wants to fight on, her time in power is coming to an end as she arrived in Brussels for a crunch summit

Theresa May publicly conceded that although in her 'heart' she wants to fight on, her time in power is coming to an end as she arrived in Brussels for a crunch summit

Theresa May publicly conceded that although in her ‘heart’ she wants to fight on, her time in power is coming to an end as she arrived in Brussels for a crunch summit

The Prime Minister held talks with Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar before the EU summit formally kicked off today

The Prime Minister held talks with Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar before the EU summit formally kicked off today

The Prime Minister held talks with Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar before the EU summit formally kicked off today

Philip May waves off the Prime Minister this morning

Philip May waves off the Prime Minister this morning

Theresa May is off to Brussels for more talks

Theresa May is off to Brussels for more talks

Waving her off: Philip May waves off the Prime Minister this morning after she won a Party vote of no confidence last night. She is heading to Brussels for an EU summit where she will try and win more concessions on the Irish border backstop 

Yesterday she was forced to concede she will not lead the Tories into the 2022 general election in a bid to buy off a rebellion – but still suffered a bloody nose as 117 MPs joined the bid to get her out. 

Philip cheered his wife on at PMQs yesterday, and the pair are understood to have toasted her political survival with a glass of wine and some crisps last night. 

Former ally Iain Duncan-Smith, who voted against the PM last night, said today that Mrs May should tell EU leaders: ‘If you want a deal you’d better damn well step up to the plate’ and warn them Britain’s £39billion Brexit bill is ‘fully at risk’ unless they remove the backstop.

The victory last night was far less emphatic than allies had hoped, and a clearly shaken Mrs May acknowledged in a speech outside No10 that ‘a significant number of colleagues cast their votes against me’.

She said she would ‘listen’ and pursue a ‘renewed mission – delivering the Brexit that people voted for, bringing the country back together, and building a country that truly works for everyone’.

Yesterday the Prime Minister was backed by Tory MPs by 200 to 117 in a confidence after conceding she will not lead the party into the 2022 general election. However the number of rebels to vote against her is far greater than expected and leaves her politically wounded

Yesterday the Prime Minister was backed by Tory MPs by 200 to 117 in a confidence after conceding she will not lead the party into the 2022 general election. However the number of rebels to vote against her is far greater than expected and leaves her politically wounded

Yesterday the Prime Minister was backed by Tory MPs by 200 to 117 in a confidence after conceding she will not lead the party into the 2022 general election. However the number of rebels to vote against her is far greater than expected and leaves her politically wounded

A Commons vote on the PM’s Brexit deal was pulled at the last moment this week to avoid a catastrophic defeat. 

Trade Secretary Liam Fox put down a clear marker yesterday by warning it may never be put to a Parliamentary vote unless changes are made. 

‘It is very difficult to support the deal if we don’t get changes to the backstop,’ he said. ‘I am not even sure the Cabinet will agree for it to be put to the House of Commons.’

He told the BBC: ‘If there is no movement on the backstop then it is very likely either one of two things happens. Either [we] remain in the EU without a referendum, which I think would be a democratic affront which brings a whole range of consequences, or, perhaps more likely, we have to up our preparations for no deal and leave the EU without an agreed deal.’

In a sign of the simmering divisions, other ministers including Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark are urging an early vote on the package – and then if it is defeated a series of Commons votes on different options for how to move forward. 

Mrs May’s fate is now effectively in the hands of EU leaders who have repeatedly said they will not re-open negotiations. 

Mrs Merkel said Mrs May’s victory in the confidence vote was ‘pleasing’, but repeated that there is no prospect of changing the Withdrawal Agreement. 

‘I do not see that this Withdrawal Agreement can be changed,’ she said.

‘We can discuss whether there should be additional assurances, but here the 27 member states will act very much in common and make their interests very clear.

‘This is always in the spirit that we will have very, very good relations with the UK after it has departed from the European Union.’ 

And Finnish PM Juha Sipila warned: ‘Legally binding will be a little bit difficult.

‘But we all want to help her first of all, and then our goal is that the new relationship will be before the backstop.

‘So I think, at the political level, we can (offer assurances). That’s our primary goal. And let’s see if we can find something from the legal side also, but it’s open still.’

Theresa May put a brave face on her situation  as she reacted to the outcome of the Tory no-confidence ballot

There were cheers as 1922 committee chairman Graham Brady announced the result in the Commons last night

There were cheers as 1922 committee chairman Graham Brady announced the result in the Commons last night

There were cheers as 1922 committee chairman Graham Brady announced the result in the Commons last night

The Prime Minister will restart negotiations with European leaders after winning the intense 15-hour fight to keep her own job, with a vote of no-confidence announced early yesterday and concluded by 9pm.  

Standing on Downing Street last night, Mrs May pleaded to be allowed to ‘get on with the job’ of delivering Brexit – by rivals both within and outside of her party.

How the Brexiteer ‘lemmings’ sparked a coup – and how it collapsed  

Theresa May has been dogged by rumours of a coup by angry Brexiteers since the snap election surrendered the Tory majority – but the plot exploded when her deal emerged.

November 13: A draft deal is struck in Brussels and begins to leak. Brexiteers react with horror at the state of the Irish border backstop.

November 14: May secures agreement for the deal after a marathon and fractious Cabinet meeting.

November 15: Dominic Raab and Esther McVey resign from Cabinet over the deal, branding it a surrender to Brussels.

Jacob Rees-Mogg goes public with a move against May, calling on Tory MPs to submit letters of No Confidence.

November 22: EU officials sign off the deal after resolving last minute hitches. 

Brexiteer plotters insist they still want to remove the PM but admit they do not have the necessary 48 letters.

November 25: At a special EU summit, the divorce deal is rubber stamped.

December 4: May opens a five day debate on her Brexit deal ahead of a planned vote. Opposition is mounting rapidly, with dozens of Tory MPs pledged against it. 

Tory MPs rebel to help Labour hold the Government in contempt of Parliament amid three humiliating Commons defeats for May in 63 minutes.

December 10: May calls off the vote, admitting there is ‘significant’ opposition to the deal.

December 11: Rumours spread rapidly that letters of no confidence are finally mounting up as MPs lose patience with May’s insistence she can salvage her deal.

December 12: A vote of no confidence is finally called  – and is held within hours as May vows to fight on.

Support for the Brexiteers falls flat, leaving May safe from party procedure for a year and free to keep shoring up her deal despite rage in her party.  

But her hopes of harmony may be short-lived. Jeremy Corbyn insisted her ‘dismal’ deal be put to Parliament next week, while Labour MPs branded her a ‘lame duck’ after she vowed she would not lead the Tories into the next general election. 

Rebel chief Jacob Rees-Mogg said because a third of her MPs hadn’t backed her: ‘She ought to go and see the Queen urgently and resign’ – Chancellor Philip Hammond hit back and called Mr Rees-Mogg and his supporters ‘extremists’.

Instead, the EU is only likely to offer ‘clarifications’ that the EU does not want to use the backstop and it should be a last resort. 

However, it may also include a pledge to consider ways of giving further assurances that, while not binding, carry more legal weight.

In an astonishing day of political drama, Conservative MPs voted by 200 to 117 for her to stay on as Tory leader and Prime Minister. 

Despite months of sabre-rattling by her hardline opponents, and deadlock over Brexit, almost two thirds of Tory MPs backed her.

Cabinet ministers immediately demanded that her opponents give her the breathing space and support to secure an ‘orderly exit’ from the 

EU. But Mrs May’s victory, which means she cannot be challenged again for at least 12 months, came at a price. 

She was forced to promise she will quit before the next general election, scheduled for 2022.

Eurosceptics and Labour said the numbers were ‘shocking’ and a ‘disaster’, while Cabinet ministers queued up to talk up the positives. 

Jeremy Hunt yesterday said her ‘stamina, resilience and decency’ had ‘again won the day’, while Treasury minister Liz Truss said it was ‘convincing’. 

And the scale of yesterday’s revolt – more than a third of her MPs want her gone – will raise questions about how long she can stay in charge.  

Draft conclusions to be considered by EU leaders say: ‘The union stands ready to examine whether any further assurance can be provided.’

However, it adds: ‘Such assurance will not change or contradict the Withdrawal Agreement.’

One paragraph in the draft summit conclusions that could help Mrs May says the backstop were to be triggered ‘it would apply only temporarily unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement’. 

The text adds: ‘In such a case, the union would use its best endeavours to negotiate a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, so that it would only be in place for a short period and only as long as strictly necessary.’

Mrs May is seeking assurances that Britain could never become ‘trapped’ indefinitely in the customs backstop, which will come into effect if no trade deal is struck to avoid a border emerging between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Some MPs fear the agreement could lead to Britain being tied to the bloc’s customs regime indefinitely – opposition that led to Mrs May shelving a scheduled Commons vote on the deal.

Tory MPs wait for the result of last night's confidence vote that Theresa May won but 117 of her own party voted against her

Tory MPs wait for the result of last night's confidence vote that Theresa May won but 117 of her own party voted against her

Tory MPs wait for the result of last night’s confidence vote that Theresa May won but 117 of her own party voted against her

Earlier Mrs May left some politicians in tears as she told the gathering in a Commons committee room (pictured) that she would bow out gracefully once that task is complete 

Earlier Mrs May left some politicians in tears as she told the gathering in a Commons committee room (pictured) that she would bow out gracefully once that task is complete 

Earlier Mrs May left some politicians in tears as she told the gathering in a Commons committee room (pictured) that she would bow out gracefully once that task is complete 

Some MPs tweeted images of the ballot papers as the no confidence vote took place at Westminster last night where 200 people declared they did have confidence in the PM including Sarah Wollaston, who pictured her own vote

Some MPs tweeted images of the ballot papers as the no confidence vote took place at Westminster last night where 200 people declared they did have confidence in the PM including Sarah Wollaston, who pictured her own vote

Some MPs tweeted images of the ballot papers as the no confidence vote took place at Westminster last night where 200 people declared they did have confidence in the PM including Sarah Wollaston, who pictured her own vote

EU sources appeared to rule out the idea of any further assurances being legally binding. One senior diplomat said yesterday: ‘The Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration are set. We don’t think a legal instrument is possible here.’

Another senior official added: ‘What is not feasible is renegotiations of the Withdrawal Agreement of the deal which was reached. This is not on the table and whatever reassurance will be given they cannot contradict the deal which was agreed on November 25. I don’t know what’s possible, but what I know is impossible is to renegotiate the deal – that’s impossible.’

Another senior EU source suggested a solution could be to beef-up language in the political declaration on the future relationship – the part of the deal that is not legally binding.

EU Council chief Donald Tusk wrote to EU leaders yesterday pledging to listen to Mrs May before making any ‘conclusions’.

Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg said last night still believed 'someone else' should try to secure a good Brexit and called on the PM to resign

Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg said last night still believed 'someone else' should try to secure a good Brexit and called on the PM to resign

Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg said last night still believed ‘someone else’ should try to secure a good Brexit and called on the PM to resign

Mrs May welcomed the result on Tuesday night while acknowledging that ‘a significant number of colleagues did cast their votes against me’.

She said she would now pursue a ‘renewed mission – delivering the Brexit that people voted for, bringing the country back together, and building a country that truly works for everyone’. She said the situation called for ‘politicians on all sides coming together and acting in the national interest’ – an apparent plea for help from Labour.

Speaking in Downing Street afterwards, a clearly shaken Mrs May admitted that she needed to get an improved deal from the EU with ‘legally binding’ assurances on the Irish border backstop.

‘I am pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues in tonight’s ballot,’ she said yesterday evening.

‘Whilst I’m grateful for that support, significant number of colleagues did cast their vote against me and I have listened to what they have said.

‘We now need to get on with the job of delivering for the British people and building a better future for this country.’ 

Mrs May added: ‘That must start here in Westminster with politicians on all sides coming together to act in the national interest.

‘I have heard what the House of Commons said about the Northern Ireland backstop. I go to the European Council tomorrow and I will be seeking legal and political guarantees that will assuage those concerns.’ 

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling described the result as a ‘strong vote of support’ for the PM.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: ‘This was a very comfortable victory for Theresa May. Removing her would have been self-indulgent and irresponsible. I’m glad that a large majority agreed.’

But Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the hardline European Research Group which forced the vote, said the PM had suffered a ‘terrible result’ in which the ‘overwhelming majority of her backbenchers have voted against her’.

‘Of course I accept this result, but Theresa May must realise that under all constitutional norms she ought to go and see the Queen urgently and resign,’ he said.

Mrs May appealed to Tory MPs not to sack her at an emotionally-charged Commons meeting just minutes before the ballot opened last night.

She pledged she would not call a snap election, and said the party’s greatest duty was to prevent Jeremy Corbyn entering Downing Street.

One source at the meeting said she told MPs: ‘In my heart I would have loved to have led us into the next election, but I realise that we will need a new leader with new objectives for the 2022 election.’

Some ministers were said to be close to tears as the PM acknowledged that some in her own party want her gone rather than risk a repeat of last year’s disastrous election campaign.  

The vote came after Tory shop steward Sir Graham Brady announced that at least 48 MPs had written letters of no confidence in Mrs May, sparking a vote under the party’s leadership rules.

After the announcement yesterday morning, Mrs May pledged to fight the coup attempt with ‘everything I’ve got’.

She ducked questions about the exact date of her departure.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove had urged Tory MPs not to trigger the no confidence vote in the Prime Minister

Environment Secretary Michael Gove had urged Tory MPs not to trigger the no confidence vote in the Prime Minister

Home Secretary Sajid Javid called the challenge 'self indulgent'

Home Secretary Sajid Javid called the challenge 'self indulgent'

Environment Secretary Michael Gove had urged Tory MPs not to trigger the no confidence vote in the Prime Minister while Home Secretary Sajid Javid called the challenge ‘self indulgent’ (both pictured last night)

Who could replace Theresa May? As the PM admits she will have to quit soon, these are some of the leading contenders to take over

Theresa May won her Tory confidence vote last night after promising not to lead the party into the 2022 general election.

These are some of the leading contenders to replace her:

Boris Johnson – 7/2

How did they vote on Brexit?

Led the Vote Leave campaign alongside Michael Gove.

What is their view now?

Hard line Brexiteer demanding a clean break from Brussels. The former foreign secretary is violently opposed to Theresa May’s Chequers plan and a leading voice demanding a Canada-style trade deal.

What are their chances?

Mr Johnson’s biggest challenge could be navigating the Tory leadership rules. 

He may be confident of winning a run-off among Tory members but must first be selected as one of the top two candidates by Conservative MPs. 

Now rated as favourite by the bookies, Boris Johnson's (pictured leaving parliament last night) biggest challenge will be navigating the Tory leadership rules

Now rated as favourite by the bookies, Boris Johnson's (pictured leaving parliament last night) biggest challenge will be navigating the Tory leadership rules

Now rated as favourite by the bookies, Boris Johnson’s (pictured leaving parliament last night) biggest challenge will be navigating the Tory leadership rules

Dominic Raab – 9/2

How did they vote on Brexit?

Leave, with a second tier role campaigning for Vote Leave.

What is their view now?

Mr Raab was installed as Brexit Secretary to deliver the Chequers plan but sensationally resigned last month saying the deal was not good enough.

What are their chances?

His resignation from the Cabinet put rocket boosters under Mr Raab’s chances, fuelling his popularity among the hardline Brexiteers. May struggle to overcome bigger beasts and better known figures. 

Newly installed as Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab (pictured on Tuesday) is trying to negotiate Theresa May's Brexit deal

Newly installed as Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab (pictured on Tuesday) is trying to negotiate Theresa May's Brexit deal

Newly installed as Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab (pictured on Tuesday) is trying to negotiate Theresa May’s Brexit deal

Sajid Javid – 5/1

How did they vote on Brexit?

Remain but kept a low profile in the referendum.

What is their view now?

Pro delivering Brexit and sceptical of the soft Brexit options.

What are their chances?

Probably the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet after his dramatic promotion to Home Secretary. Mr Javid has set himself apart from Mrs May on a series of policies, notably immigration.

Sajid Javid (pictured leaving the Houses of Parliament this evening) is probably the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet after his dramatic promotion to Home Secretary

Sajid Javid (pictured leaving the Houses of Parliament this evening) is probably the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet after his dramatic promotion to Home Secretary

Sajid Javid (pictured leaving the Houses of Parliament this evening) is probably the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet after his dramatic promotion to Home Secretary

Michael Gove – 7/1

How did they vote on Brexit?

Leave 

What is their view now? 

He has said Theresa May’s Chequers blueprint for Brexit is the ‘right one for now’. But he recently suggested a future prime minister could alter the UK-EU relationship if they desired.

What are their chances? 

He came third in the first round of voting in 2016, trailing behind ultimate winner Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom. Mr Gove has said it is ‘extremely unlikely’ that he would stand again. But he popular in the party and is seen as an ideas man and a reformer by many, and he could change his mind if Theresa May is shown the door.

Michael Gove appeared to rule himself out of the race in recent days, but he ran last time and is popular among many in the party. He is pictured outside the Houses of Parliament today

Michael Gove appeared to rule himself out of the race in recent days, but he ran last time and is popular among many in the party. He is pictured outside the Houses of Parliament today

Michael Gove appeared to rule himself out of the race in recent days, but he ran last time and is popular among many in the party. He is pictured outside the Houses of Parliament today

Jeremy Hunt – 7/1

How did they vote on Brexit?

Remain.

What is their view now?

The Foreign Secretary claims the EU Commission’s ‘arrogance’ has made him a Brexiteer.

What are their chances?

Another top contender inside Cabinet, Mr Hunt’s stock rose during his record-breaking stint at the Department of Health and won a major promotion to the Foreign Office after Mr Johnson’s resignation. Widely seen as a safe pair of hands which could be an advantage if the contest comes suddenly. 

Jeremy Hunt's stock rose during his record-breaking stint at the Department of Health and won a major promotion to the Foreign Office after Mr Johnson's resignation

Jeremy Hunt's stock rose during his record-breaking stint at the Department of Health and won a major promotion to the Foreign Office after Mr Johnson's resignation

Jeremy Hunt’s stock rose during his record-breaking stint at the Department of Health and won a major promotion to the Foreign Office after Mr Johnson’s resignation

David Davis – 10/1

How did they vote on Brexit?

Leave.

What is their view now?

Leave and a supporter of scrapping Mrs May’s plan and pursuing a Canada-style trade deal with the EU.

What are their chances?

The favoured choice of many hard Brexiteers. Seen as a safer pair of hands than Mr Johnson and across the detail of the current negotiation after two years as Brexit Secretary. He could be promoted a caretaker to see through Brexit before standing down.

Unlikely to be the choice of Remain supporters inside the Tory Party – and has been rejected by the Tory membership before, in the 2005 race against David Cameron. 

David Davis (pictured outside the Houses of Parliament today) is seen as a safer pair of hands than Mr Johnson and across the detail of the current negotiation after two years as Brexit Secretary

David Davis (pictured outside the Houses of Parliament today) is seen as a safer pair of hands than Mr Johnson and across the detail of the current negotiation after two years as Brexit Secretary

David Davis (pictured outside the Houses of Parliament today) is seen as a safer pair of hands than Mr Johnson and across the detail of the current negotiation after two years as Brexit Secretary

Amber Rudd – 14/1

How did they vote on Brexit?

Remain. Represented Britain Stronger in Europe in the TV debates.

What is their view now?

Strongly remain and supportive of a second referendum – particularly given a choice between that and no deal.

What are their chances?

Popular among Conservative MPs as the voice of Cameron-style Toryism, Ms Rudd is still seen as a contender despite resigning amid the Windrush scandal – and she was boosted further by her return to Cabinet as Work and Pensions Secretary on Friday night. She is badly hampered by having a tiny majority in her Hastings constituency and would not be able to unite the Tory party in a sudden contest over the Brexit negotiation. 

Popular among Conservative MPs as the voice of Cameron-style Toryism, Amber Rudd (pictured leaving parliament this evening) is still seen as a contender despite resigning amid the Windrush scandal

Popular among Conservative MPs as the voice of Cameron-style Toryism, Amber Rudd (pictured leaving parliament this evening) is still seen as a contender despite resigning amid the Windrush scandal

Popular among Conservative MPs as the voice of Cameron-style Toryism, Amber Rudd (pictured leaving parliament this evening) is still seen as a contender despite resigning amid the Windrush scandal

Jacob Rees-Mogg – 14/1

How did they vote on Brexit? 

Leave.

What is their view now? 

Leave and recently branded Theresa May’s Brexit U-turn a ‘humiliation’ which has left her deal ‘defeated’. 

What are their chances? 

As chair of the European Research Group (ERG) bloc of Tory Eurosceptics he has been urging MPs to replace Mrs May for weeks. 

Pro-Brexit supporter, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, walks through members of the media and anit-brexit demonstrators as he walks near to the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday

Pro-Brexit supporter, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, walks through members of the media and anit-brexit demonstrators as he walks near to the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday

Pro-Brexit supporter, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, walks through members of the media and anit-brexit demonstrators as he walks near to the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday

Penny Mordaunt – 14/1

How did they vote on Brexit?

Leave.

What is their view now?

Leave and subject of persistent rumour she could be the next to quit Cabinet over Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

What are their chances?

Possible dark horse in the contest, Ms Mordaunt is not well known to the public but is seen as a contender in Westminster. Known to harbour deep concerns about Mrs May’s Brexit deal, but has stopped short of resigning from Cabinet. 

Possible dark horse in the contest, Penny Mordaunt (pictured in Downing Street) is not well known to the public but is seen as a contender in Westminster

Possible dark horse in the contest, Penny Mordaunt (pictured in Downing Street) is not well known to the public but is seen as a contender in Westminster

Possible dark horse in the contest, Penny Mordaunt (pictured in Downing Street) is not well known to the public but is seen as a contender in Westminster

Andrea Leadsom – 16/1 

How did they vote on Brexit?

Leave.

What is their view now?

Ms Leadsom said in late November that she was backing the withdrawal agreement struck with Brussels because it ‘delivered’ on the referendum result. 

What are their chances? 

Leader of the Commons since June, Andrea Leadsom found herself at the centre of controversy in the 2016 leadership campaign when comments she made were interpreted as a claim that she would be a better PM than Mrs May because she was a mother. Asked recently whether Mrs May was the right person to be leading the country, she said she is ‘at the moment’. 

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, arrives at Downing Street on Thursday last week

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, arrives at Downing Street on Thursday last week

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, arrives at Downing Street on Thursday last week

Gavin Williamson – 33/1 

How did they vote on Brexit?

Remain. 

What is their view now?

Mr Williamson tweeted today: ‘The Prime Minister has my full support. She works relentlessly hard for our country and is the best person to make sure we leave the EU on 29 March and continue to deliver our domestic agenda.’ 

What are their chances?

He backed Remain in the referendum and pledged his support for Mrs May in the 2016 leadership contest but has since been mentioned as a potential future Tory leader. 

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is a 33/1 outsider according to the best odds by bookies this evening

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is a 33/1 outsider according to the best odds by bookies this evening

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is a 33/1 outsider according to the best odds by bookies this evening

But the concession that she will not fight the next election will weaken her authority and spark a race to succeed. Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and Amber Rudd will jostle for position against Eurosceptic former Cabinet colleagues Boris Johnson, David Davis and Dominic Raab.

Crispin Blunt, who wrote a letter of no confidence in Mrs May, urged rebels to back her, but said he still considered her Brexit plan a ‘bad deal’. He said: ‘The leadership question is now behind us for a year and we must get behind Theresa May in delivering Brexit.’

Nadine Dorries, another critic of the PM, said: ‘It’s not the way I voted, however, I will fully respect the result.’  

Allies had previously insisted that Mrs May would fight on even if she only won by a single vote.

Ministers were eager to move on from the bitter struggle, even though many are known to harbour misgivings about Mrs May’s Brexit deal. 

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt posted on Twitter: ‘Prime Minister wins confidence motion with 63% of the vote. Now let’s crack on with getting the changes we need to the deal on offer and press on with no deal preparations. We are leaving the EU in 15 weeks.’ 

Jacob Rees-Mogg told Sky News last night that he still believed ‘someone else’ should try to secure a good Brexit.

‘It’s a very bad result for the Prime Minister, 163 Tory MPs are on the payroll…and therefore of the backbenchers the Prime Minster lost very heavily…Clearly the Prime Minister has lost the support of the backbenches of the Conservative Party, and that is not a good position for her to be in,’ he said.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom (pictured) also spoke out for Mrs May despite concerns about the progress in negotiations with the EU

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom (pictured) also spoke out for Mrs May despite concerns about the progress in negotiations with the EU

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom (pictured) also spoke out for Mrs May despite concerns about the progress in negotiations with the EU

‘Having failed in her main plank of policy, it would be constitutional normal for her to retire from the fray.’

Chancellor Philip Hammond launched a furious assault on Brexit 'extremists' trying to undermine the government

Chancellor Philip Hammond launched a furious assault on Brexit 'extremists' trying to undermine the government

Chancellor Philip Hammond launched a furious assault on Brexit ‘extremists’ trying to undermine the government

He added: ‘Someone else ought to try to deliver Brexit.’ 

Other Brexiteers were keen to make clear they accepted the result even if they did not like it. Steve Double said: ‘The PM has won the confidence vote 200-117. We are a democratic party and I accept the result. However the margin should send a clear message to the leadership that over 1/3 of MPs have serious concerns and need to be addressed.’

Crispin Blunt said: ‘The leadership question is now behind us for a year and we must get behind Theresa May in delivering Brexit.

‘The realities remain. Her proposed withdrawal deal is a bad deal. She was clear today we leave on 29 March 2019. Nothing to fear but fear itself! Get it done!’

The contest was held after hardliners finally secured the 48 letters from MPs needed to trigger the process. 

More than 180 MPs had publicly declared that they would back her, indicating that she was on course to survive.

However, as it was a secret ballot there was no way of telling if they were being truthful. One senior MP privately admitted their colleagues are the ‘most duplicitous electorate in the history of humankind’. 

As MPs sweltered in the stifling heat of committee room 14 last nigth, Mrs May was said to have told them in her ‘heart’ she would like to carry on but she recognised that was not the ‘will’ of the party. 

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins was one of those nearly overcome by the emotion of the moment. Asked for her reaction as she emerged from the room, she welled up and clutched her chest. 

Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke said that some Tory MPs had tears in their eyes when the PM told the room she would not lead the party into the next election.

He said : ‘She basically said it is not her intention to lead the party into the 2022 election.

‘I think she’s at a stage where she is 100 per cent committed to delivering Brexit. That’s where her focus is.

‘And her opening remarks were: ‘I am not going to call a snap election. There is an impasse and we will get through it but I’m not going to call a snap election.’

Asked what the feeling was like in the room when she said she would not lead the party into the 2022 election, he said: ‘Shock. There were a couple of tears in some colleagues’ eyes.’ 

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis, who had hinted he was voting against the PM last night, left the committee room before the end of Mrs May’s appearance.   

Sajid Javid is grass root Tories’ favourite to replace May after she vows to step down by 2022

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is favourite with the Tory faithful to succeed Theresa May, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in second place – and Boris Johnson well down the field.

According to the survey of Conservative councillors, Home Secretary Mr Javid is the Party’s first choice to replace Mrs May. 

He is followed by Mr Hunt and former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. 

Surprisingly, Mr Johnson, Mrs May’s most prominent critic, trails in seventh place.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is favourite with the Tory faithful to succeed Theresa May

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is favourite with the Tory faithful to succeed Theresa May

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is favourite with the Tory faithful to succeed Theresa May

A poll for the Mail found Sajid Javid is favourite to succeed Theresa May 

A poll for the Mail found Sajid Javid is favourite to succeed Theresa May 

A poll for the Mail found Sajid Javid is favourite to succeed Theresa May 

By contrast, Environment Michael Gove, who sabotaged fellow Brexiteer Johnson’s 2016 leadership challenge in 2016, but has stayed loyal to Mrs May, is one place ahead of Johnson.

The 753 Conservative councillors who took part in the poll were asked to pick from 11 leadership contenders, listing them in order of preference. 

The more top picks they received, the higher they were ranked and vice versa.

The Survation poll is a key guide to the possible outcome of a Tory leadership contest. 

MPs whittle the candidates down the final two, but the winner is decided by a vote of the Party’s 100,000 plus members, which includes its 9,000 councillors. 

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is second place favourite to succeed Theresa May

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is second place favourite to succeed Theresa May

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is second place favourite to succeed Theresa May

Nearly six in ten of those who took part in the survey voted in favour of Brexit in the referendum; four of ten voted Remain. 

In spite of the respondents’ pro Brexit views, outspoken Remainer, Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Rudd, restored to the Cabinet after losing her Home Office job over the Windrush immigration fiasco earlier this year, pipped both Johnson and Gove.

The number one ranking for Javid comes after a series of reports that he is gearing up for a challenge if Mrs May falls.

The Home Secretary, who campaigned for Remain but has since said he supports Brexit, is followed by fellow convert Hunt in second place, Raab third, David Davis, Amber Rudd, Gove, Johnson, Penny Mordaunt, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey.

Nearly seven in ten Tory councillors said Conservative MPs were wrong to try to oust Mrs May

Nearly seven in ten Tory councillors said Conservative MPs were wrong to try to oust Mrs May

Nearly seven in ten Tory councillors said Conservative MPs were wrong to try to oust Mrs May

Johnson’s low position is at odds with other recent polls of Tory supporters – as opposed to Tory members – which have put him in first place. 

Damian Lyons-Lowe, head of Survation, said: ‘It seems Conservative councillors disapprove more strongly of a fellow politician who rocks the party boat to members of the public. 

They are more sympathetic to Cabinet loyalists like Sajid and Hunt. Boris’ supporters will be dismayed that he is behind both Gove and Rudd in popularity terms in the Party.’

Nearly seven in ten Tory councillors said Conservative MPs were wrong to try to oust Mrs May; one in three said they were right to do so.

A total of 67 per cent said MPs should vote to keep Mrs May against 31 per cent who said they should sack her.

Johnson’s low position of seventh is at odds with other recent polls of Tory supporters – as opposed to Tory members – which have put him in first place

Johnson’s low position of seventh is at odds with other recent polls of Tory supporters – as opposed to Tory members – which have put him in first place

Johnson’s low position of seventh is at odds with other recent polls of Tory supporters – as opposed to Tory members – which have put him in first place

Tory Party anger with MPs who tried to topple Mrs May is reflected in some of the comments posted by councillors who took part in the poll. 

They included: ‘What a mess, no deal should not even be considered, the economy is the priority’; ‘We should support the PM, stabbing her in the back has undermined her all the way’; ‘Conservative MPs are acting like children’; ‘I am ashamed of MPs who did this.’

But some were critical of the Prime Minister. One said: ‘We need a leader with real charisma.’ Another observed: ‘She has made a real hash of the negotiations.’ 

Survation interviewed 753 Conservative councillors online today. 

When Theresa May promised to bow out after Brexit she fired the starting gun on the Tory leadership race. With Raab in front and Javid and Johnson behind him, ANDREW PIERCE asks who will replace her as PM? 

By Andrew Pierce for The Daily Mail

Brexit Ultra

Jacob Rees-Mogg

With his double-breasted pinstripe suits and impeccable manners, the 49-year-old has been ridiculed as ‘the honourable member for the 18th century’.

Chairman of the European Research Group, a cabal of ultra-Brexiteer Tories who have botched their attempts to unseat Mrs May. And his increasingly personal attacks on her have damaged his standing among fellow Tory MPs and activists.

The son of a former editor of The Times, he divides his time with his wife and their six children between a £4.5 million house in Westminster and a 400-year-old mansion at the foot of the Mendip Hills.

He used to top polls of party activists when they were asked who they wanted as next Tory leader. But his recent disloyalty to Mrs May has seen his ratings plummet.

Always says he doesn’t want the top job — which is just as well. After May’s comfortable victory, there’s now more chance of Tony Blair coming back as Labour leader than Rees-Mogg assuming the Tory crown.

With his double-breasted pinstripe suits and impeccable manners, 49-year-old Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured) has been ridiculed as 'the honourable member for the 18th century'

With his double-breasted pinstripe suits and impeccable manners, 49-year-old Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured) has been ridiculed as 'the honourable member for the 18th century'

With his double-breasted pinstripe suits and impeccable manners, 49-year-old Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured) has been ridiculed as ‘the honourable member for the 18th century’

Brexiteers who stalked out

Dominic Raab 

Cerebral lawyer who’s the son of a Czech-born Jewish father who came to Britain in 1938 aged six as a refugee from the Nazis.

Appointed Brexit Secretary after fellow Brexiteer David Davis walked out — but quit himself last month. 

‘I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit,’ he said. 

Ubiquitous on TV and radio, but not everyone is impressed. ‘Dominic is his own biggest fan,’ says one Tory MP. ‘He’s just a bit too clever.’

A black belt at karate, the 44-year-old could form a joint leadership ticket with David Davis.

Dominic Raab (pictured) is a cerebral lawyer who's the son of a Czech-born Jewish father who came to Britain in 1938 aged six as a refugee from the Nazis

Dominic Raab (pictured) is a cerebral lawyer who's the son of a Czech-born Jewish father who came to Britain in 1938 aged six as a refugee from the Nazis

Dominic Raab (pictured) is a cerebral lawyer who’s the son of a Czech-born Jewish father who came to Britain in 1938 aged six as a refugee from the Nazis

Boris Johnson

Clearly on manoeuvres — the 54-year-old having just cropped his signature tousled hair and lost 12lb.

The most passionate frontline Tory advocate of Brexit — describing the PM’s deal as ‘diabolical’ and a ‘legal lobster pot’. As ever, he is long on bombast, short on content. Long on grandiosity, short on self-awareness.

As one of the most hardline Brexiteers, he is hamstrung by a lack of support among fellow Tory MPs, which means he’ll struggle to make it to the final two of any contest. But a restless soul, backbench life will not suit Johnson.

Clearly on manoeuvres — 54-year-old Boris Johnson (pictured) having just cropped his signature tousled hair and lost 12lb

Clearly on manoeuvres — 54-year-old Boris Johnson (pictured) having just cropped his signature tousled hair and lost 12lb

Clearly on manoeuvres — 54-year-old Boris Johnson (pictured) having just cropped his signature tousled hair and lost 12lb

David Davies 

A long-term Leave advocate brought back into government by May (before he quit in a huff) having first served as Europe minister in the Major government. 

The victim of a whispering campaign about his time as Brexit Secretary when the 69-year-old was accused of being lazy, having held only five hours of meetings in Brussels in 2018.

Significantly jockeyed for position yesterday by proposing a new Brexit solution — scrapping the Irish backstop.

A serious contender, but his best hope is as a stop-gap leader before handing over to a younger deputy.

David Davis (pictured) is a long-term Leave advocate brought back into government by May (before he quit in a huff) having first served as Europe minister in the Major government

David Davis (pictured) is a long-term Leave advocate brought back into government by May (before he quit in a huff) having first served as Europe minister in the Major government

David Davis (pictured) is a long-term Leave advocate brought back into government by May (before he quit in a huff) having first served as Europe minister in the Major government

Esther McVey 

A Barnardo’s child whose father was variously a scrap metal merchant and an ice cream van driver. Before politics, the Liverpudlian was a breakfast TV presenter.

Resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary in protest at May’s EU withdrawal document.

Asked on Sunday if she’d run, Mrs McVey, 51, said she would ‘if people asked’.

Though she might have to wait a long time before anyone asks her, as she has yet to prove she has any intellectual depth.

Her political mentor is Eurosceptic Iain Duncan Smith, and Mrs McVey has been the MP for the Tatton, Cheshire seat — vacated by Europhile George Osborne — since 2017.

Esther Mcvey is a Barnardo's child whose father was variously a scrap metal merchant and an ice cream van driver. Before politics, the Liverpudlian was a breakfast TV presenter

Esther Mcvey is a Barnardo's child whose father was variously a scrap metal merchant and an ice cream van driver. Before politics, the Liverpudlian was a breakfast TV presenter

Esther Mcvey is a Barnardo’s child whose father was variously a scrap metal merchant and an ice cream van driver. Before politics, the Liverpudlian was a breakfast TV presenter

The die-hard remainers

Gavin Williamson   

Has enjoyed a rapid rise over recent years — thanks to his naked ambition, matinee idol good looks and a penchant for theatrical power play.

As May’s Chief Whip, he was rewarded for running her leadership campaign with the job of Defence Secretary.

Best known for having kept a tarantula in a glass box on his Commons desk, seemingly to intimidate Tory MPs who stepped out of line.

Tried to soften his image by saying: ‘I don’t very much believe in the stick, but it’s amazing what can be achieved with a sharpened carrot.’

His time at the defence ministry has been fraught — being dubbed Private Pike, after the hapless youth in Dad’s Army, by some service chiefs who see the 42-year-old as a lightweight.

Early this year he confessed to having had a long-ago office romance with a colleague around the time his first son was born, admitting he ‘nearly destroyed two marriages’.

A rank outsider — with critics saying only he thinks he has leadership qualities.

As May's Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson (pictured) was rewarded for running her leadership campaign with the job of Defence Secretary

As May's Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson (pictured) was rewarded for running her leadership campaign with the job of Defence Secretary

As May’s Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson (pictured) was rewarded for running her leadership campaign with the job of Defence Secretary

Amber Rudd  

Broke ranks with Mrs May at the weekend when she conceded the possible need for a second referendum. But generally an ally of the country’s second woman PM, complaining that men at Westminster ‘seem to flounce out quite a lot’.

Brought back into the Cabinet recently after being forced to resign as Home Secretary over the Windrush scandal in April. The 55-year-old’s Achilles heel is the fact that she has a majority of only 346 in her Hastings and Rye constituency.

An alumna of Cheltenham Ladies’ College, she was ‘aristocracy coordinator’ for the film Four Weddings And A Funeral and was previously married to the late restaurant critic A. A. Gill.

Her millionaire PR guru brother Roland was a leading figure in the Remain campaign and is now noisily calling for a second referendum.

Now Welfare and Pensions Secretary, Rudd is considered an unlikely successor to Mrs May because of her steadfast support for the EU — something not appreciated by the Eurosceptic Tory grassroots.

Amber Rudd (pictured) is generally an ally of the country's second woman PM, complaining that men at Westminster 'seem to flounce out quite a lot'

Amber Rudd (pictured) is generally an ally of the country's second woman PM, complaining that men at Westminster 'seem to flounce out quite a lot'

Amber Rudd (pictured) is generally an ally of the country’s second woman PM, complaining that men at Westminster ‘seem to flounce out quite a lot’

Brexit Loyalists

Andrea Leadsom

A leading figure in the Leave campaign and, expecting Boris Johnson to run for leader afterwards, asked him to make her Chancellor if she supported him.

The 55-year-old’s own bid for the leadership foundered after allegations she’d exaggerated her City career. 

She then withdrew from the 2016 leadership race after apologising to Theresa May for suggesting being a mother made her a better candidate.

Environment Secretary in May’s first Cabinet, but was out of her depth.

Not even worth an outside bet.

55-year-old Andrea Leadsom's own bid for the leadership foundered after allegations she'd exaggerated her City career

55-year-old Andrea Leadsom's own bid for the leadership foundered after allegations she'd exaggerated her City career

55-year-old Andrea Leadsom’s own bid for the leadership foundered after allegations she’d exaggerated her City career

Michael Gove

Despite being a die-hard Brexiteer, the Environment Secretary has taken a high-wire stance of staying in Mrs May’s Cabinet.

Has toured TV and radio to defend the PM’s Brexit plan, which he says is not ideal but is better than a ‘calamitous’ no deal.

The 51-year-old will run if enough senior party figures urge him to.

Joked this week that he might ‘if Boris Johnson nominated me and Philip Hammond seconded’. More likely to back another candidate rather than stand

Despite being a die-hard Brexiteer, the Environment Secretary (pictured) has taken a high-wire stance of staying in Mrs May's Cabinet

Despite being a die-hard Brexiteer, the Environment Secretary (pictured) has taken a high-wire stance of staying in Mrs May's Cabinet

Despite being a die-hard Brexiteer, the Environment Secretary (pictured) has taken a high-wire stance of staying in Mrs May’s Cabinet

Penny Mordaunt 

Daughter of a former Para and named after frigate HMS Penelope.

The 45-year-old has been MP for Portsmouth North since 2010 and first came to prominence wearing a swimsuit to appear on ITV’s celebrity diving show Splash!

A naval reservist, she was first female Armed Forces minister before being promoted to Cabinet as International Development Secretary.

Was the most outspoken critic at the Chequers summit on the Brexit plan, but decided not to resign.

‘Not sure she’s clever enough to go to the top,’ said one former Cabinet minister last night.

Daughter of a former Para, Penny Mourdaunt (pictured) was named after frigate HMS Penelope

Daughter of a former Para, Penny Mourdaunt (pictured) was named after frigate HMS Penelope

Daughter of a former Para, Penny Mourdaunt (pictured) was named after frigate HMS Penelope

Converts 

Sajid Javid

The Home Secretary was always regarded as a Brexiteer until he came out for Remain in the referendum.

Javid, 49, now describes himself as an enthusiastic Brexit convert, but is viewed with suspicion by hardliners.

He is also a boring speaker and is regarded as dull and unimaginative by many fellow Tory MPs, with little to offer politically.

The Home Secretary (pictured) was always regarded as a Brexiteer until he came out for Remain in the referendum

The Home Secretary (pictured) was always regarded as a Brexiteer until he came out for Remain in the referendum

The Home Secretary (pictured) was always regarded as a Brexiteer until he came out for Remain in the referendum

Jeremy Hunt

A former Remainer whose reputation has been boosted by his strong six-year record as Health Secretary, which ended when he replaced Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary.

Affable and quietly authoritative, the 52-year-old has built a loyal following on the backbenches. A convert to Brexit, but vehemently opposed to leaving with no deal.

From allies flooding TV and Twitter to husband Philip watching over her at PMQs, JACK DOYLE looks back at an extraordinary 24 hours in Westminster for Theresa May

The Downing Street switchboard logged the call at 10.35pm on Tuesday. It was Sir Graham Brady for the Prime Minister. It was bad news.

The chairman of the 1922 committee confirmed what the Westminster rumour mill had suggested hours earlier – that 48 MPs had lodged letters of no confidence in the PM and that she would therefore face a vote by the Parliamentary party. If a majority voted against her, she was out.

Mrs May told Sir Graham she was ‘keen to get on with it and settle the matter’.

Theresa May (pictured above) was backed by a margin of 200 to 117 in a no-confidence ballot

Theresa May (pictured above) was backed by a margin of 200 to 117 in a no-confidence ballot

Theresa May (pictured above) was backed by a margin of 200 to 117 in a no-confidence ballot

It was a brutal end to a gruelling day. The PM had arrived back at RAF Northolt at 9pm after visiting the Hague, where she met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Berlin for a meeting with Chancellor Merkel and then Brussels to meet EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker – as she tried to gain assurances over the Northern Ireland backstop that might persuade Tory rebels to back the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement.

The whistlestop tour came after she had pulled the vote on the Brexit deal on Monday, knowing that she faced a heavy defeat. Now she was fighting for her political life.

No 10 strikes back

Yesterday the first meeting in No.10 began at 7am – an hour earlier than usual. At 7.40am Sir Graham issued a press release confirming the no confidence vote would be held. 

An hour later Mrs May stood in Downing Street and vowed to fight ‘with everything I’ve got’.

She set out several arguments to convince wavering MPs. Firstly, she warned, no new leader could be in place before January 21, the date by which the ‘meaningful vote’ on the Withdrawal Agreement is due to take place. 

This would mean handing control of negotiations to opposition MPs – who could force an even softer Brexit, or a second referendum. 

Mrs May also warned it could result in Britain’s departure date under Article 50 being either delayed or put off indefinitely.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured above) was driven out the Houses of Parliament following no confidence vote to Prime Minister Theresa May 

Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured above) was driven out the Houses of Parliament following no confidence vote to Prime Minister Theresa May 

Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured above) was driven out the Houses of Parliament following no confidence vote to Prime Minister Theresa May 

And she said a leadership contest would see the party spend ‘weeks tearing ourselves apart… just as we should be standing together to serve our country.’ She added: ‘The only people whose interests would be served are Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.’

No time to lose

The realisation that she would face a vote of no confidence was a blow, but it was not wholly unexpected. In mid-November Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) of hardline Brexiteers publicly called for Mrs May to go.

That coup attempt failed miserably, but by signalling his intent he handed Downing Street one crucial advantage: time to prepare. 

Aides began planning how to manage a no confidence vote.

By contrast, the rebels appeared disorganised. At least one member of the ERG was reported to be ‘furious’ at the speed with which the vote was called – they had expected it to be next Monday, giving more time to prepare.

The rules of the 1922 committee say a vote should be held soon as practically possible, so Sir Graham was well within his rights to go quickly. 

The quick vote also suited No 10. Senior aides who discussed timing on Tuesday concluded it would have been impossible to go to the EU Council on Thursday to try and extract concessions from EU leaders with the vote ‘hanging over our heads’.

Michael Gove (pictured above) leaving the Houses of Parliament in Westminster

Michael Gove (pictured above) leaving the Houses of Parliament in Westminster

Michael Gove (pictured above) leaving the Houses of Parliament in Westminster

Loyalists rally

The Downing Street machine went into overdrive. Loyalist MPs took to TV and radio stations to hammer home the PM’s message, following the lead of Justice Secretary David Gauke, who appeared on the all-important 8.10am interview slot on Radio 4’s Today programme. No 10 hammered MPs with polling data. 

It showed two-thirds of Tory councillors wanted Mrs May to stay and three-quarters of Tory voters want her to see through Brexit.

The public don’t believe rivals would get a better deal, by three to one. Internal party polling also revealed three-quarters of Tory voters say it is the ‘wrong time to change Prime Minister’ and that Mrs May is the most popular leader among Tory voters of all potential candidates.

British Secretary for International Development Penny Mordaunt (pictured above) 

British Secretary for International Development Penny Mordaunt (pictured above) 

British Secretary for International Development Penny Mordaunt (pictured above) 

Twitter takes off

On social media, the Cabinet swung in behind Mrs May and other ministers followed. Within minutes of Sir Graham announcing the vote, party chairman Brandon Lewis tweeted his support for Mrs May, saying the party had a ‘duty to deliver for our country’.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd – all seen as potential leadership candidates – followed with supportive tweets within the next 20 minutes.

Business Secretary Greg Clark tweeted to say he admired Mrs May’s ‘grit and determination’ and Michael Gove said he was backing her ‘100 per cent’.

Jeremy Hunt (pictured above) had a glum expression on his face when leaving Parliament

Jeremy Hunt (pictured above) had a glum expression on his face when leaving Parliament

Jeremy Hunt (pictured above) had a glum expression on his face when leaving Parliament

At 10am Julian Smith, the chief whip, also tweeted his support. The only ministers not to tweet, including Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, do not have personal Twitter accounts.

One of last to declare his support was Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who was in No 10 and did not have his phone. 

Meanwhile, the battle was being fought in the corridors of the House of Commons. 

The whips, charged with enforcing discipline , were arm-twisting and cajoling potential rebels and also went to work on their ‘flocks’ of MPs, feeding back the voting numbers to Smith

There was a notable absence of new opponents declaring they would not vote for May. 

Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson announced his intention to do so on Tuesday night, and Sir Bernard Jenkin on Wednesday morning, but neither declaration was a big surprise. More worrying for No 10 were those MPs said to be ‘making up their minds’.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd (pictured above) leaves parliament on December 12

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd (pictured above) leaves parliament on December 12

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd (pictured above) leaves parliament on December 12

Xmas cancelled

Some MPs pointed to one factor in play other than high principle: Christmas. One loyalist said, voice dripping with sarcasm: ‘Obviously in many ways I’d rather have a hugely acrimonious leadership contest over Christmas. But also in many ways not.’

Some interventions by ministers were unhelpful. Chancellor Philip Hammond said the vote would ‘flush out the extremists’ behind an agenda for Brexit which would damage Britain – a comment Mrs May later contradicted. 

Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer – a critic of the Government but not a Brexiteer – called it ‘woefully misjudged’.

Sir Graham Brady (centre), chairman of the 1922 Committee, and flanked by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (left), Bob Blackman, and Cheryl Gillian (right), announced that Theresa May survived an attempt by Tory MPs to oust her as party leader with a motion of no confidence at the Houses of Parliament in London

Sir Graham Brady (centre), chairman of the 1922 Committee, and flanked by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (left), Bob Blackman, and Cheryl Gillian (right), announced that Theresa May survived an attempt by Tory MPs to oust her as party leader with a motion of no confidence at the Houses of Parliament in London

Sir Graham Brady (centre), chairman of the 1922 Committee, and flanked by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (left), Bob Blackman, and Cheryl Gillian (right), announced that Theresa May survived an attempt by Tory MPs to oust her as party leader with a motion of no confidence at the Houses of Parliament in London

The same Cabinet ministers who were publicly eviscerating their colleagues for not supporting the PM were, at the same time, phoning MPs to gather support for their own leadership bids, he claimed.

Arch-Remainer Anna Soubry accused Boris Johnson of being a ‘great charlatan’ and of ‘cruising around the tea rooms’ to gather support. Meanwhile, Labour MPs could barely keep the smiles off their faces. 

‘We’re going to have a lunch then come back and put our feet up. Merry Christmas,’ one Labour aide said.

‘A win is a win’

The Prime Minister (left) had met with Mark Rutte (right) on Tuesday to discuss the Brexit deal

The Prime Minister (left) had met with Mark Rutte (right) on Tuesday to discuss the Brexit deal

The Prime Minister (left) had met with Mark Rutte (right) on Tuesday to discuss the Brexit deal

Just after lunch, the number of MPs who had publicly declared in Mrs May’s favour was up to 172. 

This gave officials hope, although they were not counting their chickens. One senior Tory said: ‘This is a sophisticated electorate – some may be lying.’

There was also an elaborate game of ‘managing expectations’. One senior Tory critic of Mrs May said she would have to go if 80 MPs rebelled because she had lost a majority of backbench MPs.

By contrast, one Cabinet minister said she could lose by 100 and still continue as leader. Others insisted ‘a win is a win’ – and she would press on regardless even if she won by one vote.

Facing PMQs

Mrs May arrived at the Commons in her ministerial car at 11.10am. Her husband, Philip, there for Prime Minister’s Questions, and told the Mail he was ‘very confident’ of victory. Mrs May sailed through PMQs – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sounded angry and failed to land a blow.

Then in the post-PMQs briefing of lobby journalists a No 10 aide dropped a bombshell. 

He said Mrs May ‘doesn’t believe the vote today is about who leads the party to the next election. 

It’s about whether it’s sensible to change leader at this point in the negotiations’. 

This was a major signal to MPs that the PM would not seek to fight the next election, due in 2022. It was seen by some as a sign that No 10 was not confident about the vote.

Rebuff from DUP

Just after 1pm, Mrs May met with DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds in the PM’s Commons office in an attempt to try to rebuild relations.

The Northern Irish party has all but abandoned its support for the Government over the Northern Irish backstop. 

Jacob Rees Mogg (pictured above) said he ‘accepted the confidence vote’ but said the PM should resign anyway

Jacob Rees Mogg (pictured above) said he ‘accepted the confidence vote’ but said the PM should resign anyway

Jacob Rees Mogg (pictured above) said he ‘accepted the confidence vote’ but said the PM should resign anyway

After the meeting, Mrs Foster demanded ‘fundamental changes’ to the legal text of the agreement. 

Several Tory MPs intending to vote against the PM pointed to the collapse of the DUP deal to support the Government – and the loss of its majority in the Commons – being key to their decision.

Shock and tears

Just after 5pm Mrs May made the earlier hint explicit, as she addressed the crunch meeting of Tory MPs in Committee Room 14 – the room where, shortly afterwards, they would vote to decide her fate.

She told them: ‘In my heart I would have loved to have led us into the next election, but I realise that we will need a new leader with new objectives for the 2022 election.’ Sources said the mood in the room was ‘sombre’ and there was ‘shock and a few tears in the eyes’ when she said it.

Cabinet minister Chris Grayling (pictured above) immediately insisted Mrs May would now go to Brussels to try and renegotiate the deal

Cabinet minister Chris Grayling (pictured above) immediately insisted Mrs May would now go to Brussels to try and renegotiate the deal

Cabinet minister Chris Grayling (pictured above) immediately insisted Mrs May would now go to Brussels to try and renegotiate the deal

One Tory MP described it as a ‘powerful and moving moment’ and the PM had ‘listened, heard and respects’ the will of the party. 

When pressed, Mrs May refused to set a clear date for her departure –as Tony Blair was forced to following the ‘Curry House plot’ in 2006. 

She also slapped down Mr Hammond for his earlier ‘extremists’ jibe, saying ‘there are no extremists in this party’.

The result

Shortly before 9pm, Sir Graham entered Committee Room 14 – which was packed withMPs, minister and journalists, to announce Mrs May had won. 

The announcement was greeted with the loud banging of desks by loyalists.

Then Sir Graham announced the result – 200 for and 117 against, meaning more than a third of the party voted against the PM. 

Cabinet minister Chris Grayling immediately insisted Mrs May would now go to Brussels to try and renegotiate the deal. 

Allies also pointed out the PM had won more votes than she did in the first round of the leadership contest in 2016. Rees Mogg said he ‘accepted the confidence vote’ but said the PM should resign anyway. 

Half an hour later outside No 10, a chastened Mrs May accepted it had been a ‘long and challenging day’.

 

 

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