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May battles to keep Brexit on track after no-confidence win

LONDON: Beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May has appealed to Opposition leaders to “put self-interest aside” and work with her to secure a new Brexit deal after she narrowly survived a no-confidence vote, a day after her divisive divorce agreement with the EU was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs.

The Prime Minister won Parliament’s first no-confidence vote in a British government in 26 years by 325 votes to 306, a majority of 19, on Wednesday.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street after emerging victorious, 62-year-old May said her government has won the confidence of Parliament.

This now gives “us all the opportunity to focus on finding a way forward on Brexit”, she said.

Britain is set to exit the 28-member EU, which it joined in 1973, on March 29. With just over two months to go until the scheduled departure, Britain is still undecided on what to do.

May promised to return to Parliament on Monday with an alternative Brexit strategy devised through talks with the opposition.

“Overwhelmingly, the British people want us to get on with delivering Brexit, and also address the other important issues they care about,” the Conservative leader said.

She called on Opposition lawmakers to “put self-interest aside” and “work constructively together” with her to secure a Brexit deal.

“It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done,” she said.

“Now MPs have made it clear what they don’t want, we must all work constructively together to set out what Parliament does want.

May said she believes it was her duty to deliver on the British people’s instruction to leave the European Union. “And I intend to do so,” May said.

Earlier, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn argued that May’s “zombie” administration had lost the right to govern during a six hour passionate debate in the House of Commons on his motion. His party has not ruled out tabling further no-confidence motions.

Corbyn has made it clear that before any “positive discussions” can take place, the Prime Minister should rule out a no-deal Brexit.

He urged the Prime Minister  to “ditch the red lines” and “get serious about proposals for the future”.

“We are firmly of the opinion that the starting point for any talks about how to break the Brexit deadlock must be that the threat of a disastrous ‘no deal’ outcome is ruled out,” Corbyn said in a statement.

After her victory, May told MPs that she would “continue to work to deliver on the solemn promise to the people of this country to deliver on the result of the referendum and leave the European Union”.

She invited leaders of all parties to have individual meetings with her on the way ahead for Brexit, starting Wednesday night, but called on them to approach the issue with a “constructive spirit”.

“We must find solutions that are negotiable and command sufficient support in this House,” May said.

During her address, the Prime Minister said she has held “constructive” meetings and will be meeting MPs along with senior government officials in the coming days.

May also reiterated a promise to return to the Commons on Monday to give MPs another vote on her plans.

“The House has put its confidence in this government. I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver Brexit and ensure that this House retains the confidence of the British people,” she said in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister survived a vote of no-confidence in her government by a margin of 19 votes, thanks to the backing of the 10 members of the Democratic Unionist Party. Had they switched allegiance, the government would have lost by one vote.

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