After surviving a confidence vote bought against her by members of her own political party, British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for the country to unite behind her and help to deliver the Brexit that British people voted for.
The prime minister won the confidence vote by 200 votes to 117 and in a statement given outside Downing Street, she confirmed that she plans to continue to lead the country.
She told the assembled media that she had a “renewed mission – delivering the Brexit people voted for, bringing the country back together and building a country that really works for everyone.”
But, as BBC News has reported, reaction to the vote has been mixed and while many government ministers have rallied around her, others are still calling on the prime minister to resign.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, said on Twitter that it was time to focus on the future and defended the EU withdrawal agreement that Theresa May has negotiated.
Tonight's vote of confidence in the Prime Minister @theresa_may, is the right one. Now is the time to focus on the future. Her deal means we will honour the referendum result while safeguarding jobs and maintaining business confidence.
— Philip Hammond (@PhilipHammondUK) December 12, 2018
Meanwhile, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid also went on Twitter to call on Britain to “come together, deliver Brexit and so much more.”
Right, vote over. Time to come together, deliver Brexit and so much more
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) December 12, 2018
And the minister responsible for delivering Brexit, Steve Barclay, said the vote was “a clear and decisive win” and said the country now needed to focus on delivering Brexit.
Clear and decisive win for @theresa_may this evening. We now need to focus on delivering Brexit in a way that respects the referendum result and also protects jobs and our security.
— Steve Barclay MP (@SteveBarclay) December 12, 2018
But critics of the prime minister have argued that the result is anything but clear and decisive. The result shows that almost a third of the prime minister’s own political party has no confidence in her leadership.
One backbench MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who orchestrated the vote of confidence in the prime minister, pointed out that of the 200 votes in support of the Theresa May, more than 100 are ‘on the payroll’ as government ministers and so duty-bound to support her or resign. He said the result was “terrible” and called on the prime minister to do the decent thing and resign.
Another critic of the prime minister, Mark Francois, told the Evening Standard the result was “a devastating blow” to May.
“If I were her I wouldn’t be pleased about this at all, quite the opposite,” he said. “I think she needs to think very carefully about what she does now… She lost well over half of the backbenchers, and that’s an extremely difficult position for any Prime Minister to find themselves in.”
Theresa May’s government is a minority administration, which means it needs the support of other parties to pass any new legislation. This vote of confidence shows that not only does she not have the support of other parties, but more than 100 of her own MPs have no confidence in her either. This illustrates how hard it will be for her to get her EU Withdrawal Bill through parliament and suggests that her time as prime minister could still soon be drawing to a conclusion.