Theresa May has survived an attempted coup by Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, but she travels to Brussels on Thursday to try to save her Brexit deal with her authority shaken and her party bitterly divided.
Mrs May won a vote of confidence by 200 to 117 votes after a day of intense backroom lobbying at Westminster, during which she warned her warring MPs that a change of prime minister would “put our country’s future at risk”.
However her victory came at a heavy price; Mrs May was forced to tell MPs that she would not lead the Tories into the next election, while the confidence vote brought into the public glare the scale of the enmity now felt within her party.
The prime minister, speaking after the vote, said it was time to “get on with Brexit” and for the country to come together. “That must start at Westminster, with politicians of all sides coming together and acting in the national interest,” she said.
But Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group and an instigator of the attempted coup, suggested that the party’s civil war on Europe would continue unabated, claiming that Mrs May’s unconvincing victory was “a terrible result” and that she should resign.
Neil O’Brien, a moderate Tory MP, suggested some of his colleagues were “headbangers”, while industry minister Richard Harrington said of the Brexiters: “They have shot their bolt. They are a minority within a minority. They are like student union kids.” [...]
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