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A long, chaotic day at Westminster led to a surprising vote, fluctuations in the price of the pound, and an even more uncertain future for British Prime Minister Theresa May—and her plan for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. Herewith an update on the latest in the Brexit saga.
What Happened Wednesday?
Tuesday - Mass - MPs - Letters - Confidence
On Tuesday, a critical mass of at least 48 MPs filed letters of no confidence in May’s leadership of the Conservative Party. The 1922 Committee—the name for the caucus of Conservative MPs in the House of Commons—held the confidence vote Wednesday evening. In a secret ballot, 200 Conservative MPs voted to keep May as leader, whilst 117 MPs voted to sack her.
What Does It Mean?
Conservative - Party - Rules - May - Leader
Under Conservative Party rules, May cannot be challenged as Conservative leader for another year.
So May Won the Vote of Confidence?
Yes—and - Vote - May - Advantages
Yes—and no. Going into the vote, May had several in-built advantages:
The vote of confidence was held only about 24 hours after it was announced—not much time for opponents to organize.
May - Point - Wednesday - Leader - Brexit
May made the point on Wednesday that removing her as leader could delay Brexit. Under Conservative Party rules, if she were removed and multiple MPs ran to replace her, rank-and-file party members would choose from the top two candidates in a nationwide ballot. That campaign and vote would take weeks to organize—and likely would not occur by the January 21 deadline for the government to have a vote on its Brexit plan in Parliament. May argued, with some validity, that taking time out for a leadership contest now would force Parliament to pause the Brexit process.
Roughly 100 Conservative MPs serve in May’s government, either as cabinet secretaries or more junior ministers. Despite the secret nature of the confidence ballot, this “payroll vote” should have all voted to retain May as leader—because if they do not support her,...
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