Theresa May: I will fight no-confidence vote with everything I've got
Defiant Theresa May has vowed to fight an attempt by Conservative colleagues to oust her, after it was confirmed that a vote of no-confidence would go ahead this evening.
The Prime Minister leader urged her party against "tearing ourselves apart" and warned her enemies that toppling her could delay or even cancel Brexit.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, announced this morning that the 48-letter threshold to trigger a ballot had been reached and that the vote will begin at 6pm and close at 8pm.
It comes after weeks of speculation surrounding a potential contest, which followed Brexiteer anger over the Prime Minister’s draft deal on quitting the EU.
Mrs May vowed to fight on when she addressed the nation on the steps of Downing Street this morning, saying: “I will contest that vote with everything I’ve got."
She added: "I stood to be leader because I believe in the Conservative vision, for a better future, a thriving economy, with nowhere and nobody left behind.
"A stronger society where everyone can make the most of their talents, always serving the national interest.
“And at this crucial moment in our history that means securing a Brexit deal that delivers on the result of the EU referendum.”
The Prime Minister added that a change of leadership would come at a time when the country "can least afford it".
She went on: "A new leader wouldn’t be in place by the January 21 legal deadline, so a leadership election risks handing control of the Brexit negotiations to opposition MPs in parliament."
"The new leader wouldn’t have time to renegotiate a new withdrawal agreement and get the legislation through parliament by the 29th March so one of their first acts would have to be extending or rescinding Article 50, delaying or even stopping Brexit when people want us to get on with it."
"A leadership election would not change the fundamentals of the negotiations or the parliamentary arithmetic.
“Weeks spent tearing ourselves apart will only create more division just as we should be standing together to serve our country.
“None of that would be in the national interest. The only people whose interest would be served our Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell."
She echoed the "country that works for everyone" agenda she set out in her first speech on the steps of No 10.
And she added: "I have devoted myself unsparingly to these tasks ever since I became prime minister and I stand ready to finish the job.”
Mrs May said she would cancel plans to meet with Irish PM Leo Varadkar later today - who she was hoping to appeal to over the Northern Irish backstop issue.
It was also confirmed today that a Cabinet meeting set for this afternoon will no longer go ahead. But Mrs May will still face the Commons at PMQs this lunchtime.
Cabinet ministers have flocked to her side in a show of support, but pro-Brexit Tory MPs have vowed to oust her from office.