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Britain's PM Theresa May vows to fight leadership challenge

REUTERS, Toby Melville | Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May returns to Downing Street in London, Britain, December 10, 2018.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday vowed to fight the no-confidence vote triggered by Conservative Party lawmakers, but said she plans to quit before the 2022 general elections.

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May said on Wednesday she will contest the confidence vote in her leadership “with everything I’ve got”, adding that changing course now could derail the Brexit process – although she told Conservative MPs that she will not lead them into the 2022 general elections.

"She said she does not intend to lead the 2022 election," Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke told journalists after the closed-door meeting, which was followed by a confidence vote whose results are expected later Wednesday.

With less than four months to go before a March 29, 2019 deadline, when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, the embattled British prime minister has vowed to fight the no-confidence vote.

Any incoming leader would have to extend the March 29 deadline, she said.

'No one within the Tory Party who'd like to take May's place'

“A new leader wouldn’t be in place by January 21 legal deadline, so a leadership election risks handing control of the Brexit negotiations to opposition MPs in Parliament,” May said.

'A very embattled PM'

"Weeks spent tearing ourselves apart will only create more divisions," May said in a statement delivered outside her Downing Street office Wednesday morning, adding: "I stand ready to finish the job."

May needs a simple majority - from 159 of 317 Conservative lawmakers - to remain leader.

Analysts estimate May has secured indications of support from nearly 200 of her lawmakers - enough to ensure she wins the no-confidence vote. However, some lawmakers who have backed May publicly have said in private that they will vote against her, according to British political commentators.

Deal or no deal?

With less than four months left until the United Kingdom is due to exit on March 29, the world’s fifth largest economy was tipping towards crisis, opening up the prospect of a disorderly no-deal divorce or a reversal of Brexit through a referendum.

Graham Brady, the chairman of the party’s so-called 1922 committee, said the threshold of 15 percent of the parliamentary Conservative Party seeking a confidence vote had been exceeded. A ballot will be held between 6pm and 8pm on Wednesday and an announcement made as soon as possible afterwards, he said.

Theresa May: 'I will contest that vote with everything I've got'

Brexit is Britain’s most significant political and economic decision since World War II, though pro-Europeans fear it will divide the West as it grapples with the presidency of Donald Trump and growing assertiveness from Russia and China.

The ultimate outcome will shape Britain’s $2.8 trillion economy, have far reaching consequences for the unity of the United Kingdom and determine whether London can keep its place as one of the top two global financial centres.

May could be toppled if 158 of her 315 lawmakers vote against her.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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