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UK PM survives confidence vote over Brexit deal

LONDON, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday survived a confidence vote by her own MPs but lost the support of one third of her colleagues, signalling the battle she still faces to get her Brexit deal through parliament.

May won the backing of 200 Conservative lawmakers, but 117 voted to oust

her and only after she conceded she would step down before the 2022

election.

I'm pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues in tonight's

ballot, she said outside her Downing Street office after the result was

announced.

A significant number of colleagues did cast votes against me and I've

listened to what they've said.

She said she wanted to get on with the job of delivering Brexit, and to

see politicians on all sides coming together.

The result, announced after a secret ballot, was met with huge cheers from

May's supporters gathered in parliament, while the pound rose on the news.

But leading Brexit rebel Jacob ReesMogg, one of at least 48 Tory MPs who

triggered the vote by writing a letter of no confidence in May, said it was a

terrible result.

She ought to go and see the queen and resign urgently, he told the BBC.

Brexit figurehead Nigel Farage tweeted that May limps on to her next

failure, the deal won't pass and the real crisis is close. ReesMogg and

other eurosceptics hate the divorce deal May agreed with the EU last month,

which they fear risks tying Britain to the bloc for years after Brexit on

March 29.

The confidence vote followed her decision on Monday to postpone a planned

vote in the House of Commons on the text, because she feared a crushing

defeat.

She has promised to hold that vote by January 21 when she may yet still

lose, plunging the Brexit process into fresh crisis.

Irish warning

May heads to Brussels on Thursday for a preplanned EU summit, where she

will press fellow leaders to give her something to help sell the Brexit deal

to sceptical MPs. Many Conservatives, and the Northern Irish Democratic

Unionists (DUP) who prop up the government, fear an arrangement to keep open

the Irish border could see Britain trapped in an endless customs union with

the EU.

After a whistlestop tour of European capitals on Tuesday, she said on

Wednesday she would continue to seek legal and political assurances over

the temporary nature of the socalled backstop.

But while EU leaders expressed sympathy for her difficulties, they firmly

rejected any attempt to renegotiate a Brexit deal that was only secured last

month after 17 months of talks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she still has hope for

an orderly exit but no intention to change the exit agreement.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had a similar message after a call late

Wednesday with European Commission President JeanClaude Juncker.

His office said the pair agreed to work to provide reassurance to the UK

(but) the agreement cannot be reopened or contradicted.

'Enough to cling on'

MPs and ministers had rallied round May ahead of the vote, and finance

minister Philip Hammond said May's victory would unite the party and flush

out the extremists.

But in a private meeting with MPs before they cast their ballots, she

acknowledged the weakness of her position by setting a limit on her own

leadership, lawmakers said.

It is not her intention to lead the party in the 2022 general election,

Solicitor General Robert Buckland told the BBC afterwards. May is now immune

to further Conservative confidence votes for a year, but if defeated on her

Brexit deal, her government could still face a confidence vote in parliament.

Simon Hix, of the London School of Economics, said Wednesday's result was

enough to cling on, but 117 against her means the Commons arithmetic on

Brexit is now even tougher.

Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said it showed the Tory civil

war is far from over, adding: More trouble ahead.

The delays to the Brexit deal have prompted both the EU and Britain to step

up preparations for the potentially disastrous scenario where there is no

agreement at all.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)