British Prime Minister Theresa May has survived an attempt to oust her, as MPs rejected opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s motion of no confidence in the government by a margin of 325 to 306.
The prime minister’s 19-vote victory comes less than 24 hours after the crushing defeat of her EU withdrawal agreement in the parliament, and clears the way for her to start cross-party talks on a Brexit Plan B.
Conservative rebels and members of the Democratic Unionist Party who consigned the PM to the worst defeat in parliamentary history on Tuesday rallied behind her on Wednesday to see off the threat of a general election.
Welcoming the result, May told the House of Commons she was pleased the House had expressed its confidence in the government.
“I do not take this responsibility lightly and my government will continue its work to increase our prosperity, guarantee our security and to strengthen our union,” she told MPs.
“And yes, we will also continue to work to deliver on the solemn promise we made to the people of this country to deliver on the result of the referendum and leave the European Union.”
She invited leaders of opposition parties to take part in individual meetings with her on the way forward for Brexit, starting on Wednesday evening.
Corbyn said that before there can be any positive discussions, the government must remove the prospect of “the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit”.
May is now due to set out her alternative plan for EU withdrawal to MPs on January 21.
But she risks losing control of the Brexit process, as she must table a motion which can be amended by MPs.
They are expected to use the opportunity to secure House of Commons support for a range of possible outcomes, from ruling out a no-deal departure or opting for Norway-style membership of the single market, to a second referendum.
MPs on both the Remain and the Leave wings of the party warned she needed to make major changes to the deal if she is to get it through the House of Commons.
May confirmed she wanted to meet MPs from across parliament before returning to the House of Commons on Monday to make a fresh statement on the way forward on Brexit.
She held talks with DUP leader Arlene Foster, who later described the discussions as “useful” and said she had made clear the Northern Irish party would “act in the national interest”.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he “profoundly” regretted the House of Commons vote, adding that it was now up to the British government to say how it intended to proceed.
“An orderly withdrawal will remain our absolute priority in the coming weeks,” he told the European parliament in Strasbourg.
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