THE DEBATE - Aye or Nay? Theresa May faces leadership challenge over Brexit

'It's better than no deal': Do Brits in Europe hope Theresa May wins Brexit vote?

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May defended her leadership outside 10 Downing Street just before 9 a.m. Wednesday, revealing that her Conservative Party had demanded a vote of confidence in her premiership amid the tumult of Britain exiting the EU.

By promising to step down before 2022, the prime minister hoped to peel off MPs who fear she would be an electoral liability, but she also risked further undermining her already fragile authority.

Britain's ruling Conservatives have been divided for years over the European Union question, with younger MPs being largely in favour of leaving it, while older ones tended to be more supportive of it.

If the PM loses the vote, she would not be able to stand in the subsequent leadership contest.

The rebels shot their letters of no-confidence to the party's 1922 committee, which organises leadership contests.

May could be toppled if a simple majority of 317 Conservative MPs (members of parliament) vote against her, though a large rebellion could also leave her fatally weakened. Brady said the vote would be held in Parliament between 18.00 GMT and 20.00 GMT (11.30 pm and 1.30 am) on Wednesday, with the results announced soon after.

She did not say what she will do if, as many expect, there is an early United Kingdom election triggered by Britain's Brexit crisis.

The final two candidates are put to a vote of the full party membership across the country.

The ballot will be held in the House of Commons.

In a threat to the same Brexiteers who have driven the challenge against her, May said the tight deadline may force a new leader to delay or even cancel Brexit. "The prime minister must realize that, under all constitutional norms, she ought to go and see the queen urgently and resign". "So I very much doubt that parliament will vote for the deal, when it has the chance to do so", he said. At least 189 indicated public support for her and one bookmaker had the odds she would win at 89 percent.

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Seeking Concessions May was informed of the challenge late on Tuesday, after returning from a tour of European capitals in an attempt to salvage her Brexit deal.

Speaking to BBC News, Ms Hewin said: "When the rumours emerged that there was going to be a leadership challenge or a confidence vote in the Prime Minister, we saw the pound falling quite dramatically last night".

But European Council president Donald Tusk warned the bloc would not reopen the agreement secured in November after months of negotiations, with Brexit looming on 29 March.

The last batch of letters came in after May - facing a heavy defeat - sparked fury among MPs by delayed a parliamentary vote scheduled for Tuesday on the Brexit deal she agreed with European Union leaders last month.

Both May and Tusk also said they would look at stepping up preparations for the potentially catastrophic possibility that Britain leaves the European Union without any new legal arrangements in place.

MP Graham Brady says the threshold of 48 letters from lawmakers needed to trigger a leadership vote has been reached.

The last batch came in after May delayed Tuesday's vote on the Brexit deal, a move that sparked outrage among MPs of all the political parties. Then it would fall to her successor to try to sort out Britain's Brexit mess.

Prospective leadership contenders are former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, home secretary Sajid Javid, and worldwide development secretary Penny Mordaunt.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator, expressed his disbelief at the political chaos engulfing Westminster.

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