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UK leader Theresa May pledges to fight for her Brexit deal despite deep divisions

Key Points
  • Speaking from inside 10 Downing Street, May said she "did not judge harshly colleagues who reach a different conclusion," before adding "I want to honor the vote the of the referendum."
  • May said counterparts in Brussels would recognize that "decisive progress had been made" and that the U.K. government is working with the European Union.
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May: Brexit approach has been to put national interests first

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May defended her draft plans to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union.

Speaking from inside 10 Downing Street on Thursday evening, May said she "did not judge harshly colleagues who reach a different conclusion," before adding "I want to honor the vote the of the referendum."

At least 16 members of her own Conservative Party have openly called for a vote of no confidence in May, citing dissatisfaction with her proposals to leave the European Union. Pressed on that criticism, the U.K. leader said that while a complex situation, the deal she has put forward would secure a "great future for Britain."

May said counterparts in Brussels would recognize that "decisive progress had been made" and that the U.K. government is working with the European Union.

Earlier on Thursday, one leading "Brexiteer," Jacob Rees-Mogg, submitted a letter of no confidence in May to the powerful 1922 Committee — a parliamentary group of the ruling Conservative Party. This Committee has the power to trigger a no confidence vote in any Conservative leader if it receives letters from 15 percent of Conservative lawmakers. At present, that would mean 48 letters are needed.

Asked if she would fight any leadership challenge, May said she would remain focused on her job. May added that she had not yet appointed a new Brexit secretary to lead negotiations with Brussels after the resignation of Dominic Raab. On the suggestion that Environment Secretary Michael Gove could perform the role, May said flatly that Gove had done an excellent job at the Environment Ministry.

The pound was unchanged against the dollar during her speech, after plunging earlier in the session after Raab resigned from his post.

The leader again rejected suggestions that there would be a second referendum and repeated the assertion that Britain would leave the European Union on March 29 next year.

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