Theresa May fights her corner: back me or risk putting back Brexit
Watch: The PM’s response to the news that 48 letters have been submitted.
If disgruntled Conservative MPs get their way then Theresa May could be out of a job by 10pm this evening.
For now the embattled prime minister has promised to contest the Tory confidence vote with “everything” that she’s got. But exactly what defences has she got left up her sleeve?
In a defiant speech outside Downing Street, the PM appeared clear about what her best argument was – warning that a new leader would have to delay Brexit.
Here is the key passage from her statement:
“A change of leadership in the Conservative party now would put our country’s future at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it.
“A new leader wouldn’t be in place by the 21 January legal deadline, so a leadership election risks handing control of the Brexit negotiations to opposition MPs in parliament.
“The new leader wouldn’t have time to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and get the legislation through parliament by 29 March, so one of their first acts would have to be extending or rescinding article 50, delaying or even stopping Brexit when people want us to get on with it.
“And a leadership election would not change the fundamentals of the negotiation, or the parliamentary arithmetic. Weeks spent tearing ourselves apart will only create more division just as we should be standing together to serve our country. None of that would be in the national interest. The only people whose interests would be served would be Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.”