Nicola Sturgeon criticises ‘self-centred’ Tories over leadership contest

UNDER FIRE Prime Minister Theresa May

UNDER FIRE Prime Minister Theresa May

He said: 'I will support the Prime Minister in today's vote without hesitation.

But the prime minister has stood firm and standing outside Downing Street this morning, she warned an attempt to remove her from the top job in politics could delay or even postpone Brexit next March. She also has prime minister's questions at lunchtime.

Fellow seasoned Brexiteer Owen Paterson, who was said to have sparked this vote, shared his letter of no confidence in The Telegraph Tuesday night, writing that "the Prime Minister's proposed "deal" is so bad that it can not be considered anything other than a betrayal of clear manifesto promises".

The challenge was triggered after enough Tory MPs have requested a vote of confidence in Theresa May to trigger a contest, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady has announced.

Sheneeds to secure the votes of 158 MPs - half the parliamentary party plus one - to remain as Conservative leader, though a vote of 100 or more against her will raise questions about whether she can continue.

How will today's vote take place? Tory MPs vote by casting their secret ballots in a box which will be placed in a room in Parliament, and they can only vote for these two hours.

Staunch Europhile and Remain supporter Anna Soubry called it a "disgraceful move" and that "Removing Theresa May at this most critical of times is grossly irresponsible".

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If May secures the backing of at least 159 MPs, she can not be challenged again for 12 months, under Conservative Party rules.

Theresa May is facing a vote of no confidence in her leadership tonight, possibly triggering a Conservative leadership election.

What happens if Theresa May loses?

Speculation about Mr Javid's possible leadership ambitions was fuelled by an interview in the Spectator magazine in which he set out a broad-ranging vision for the Conservatives as the party which can "make a real difference to you as an individual in your life". And she insisted a general election would not be "in the national interest". May had been planning to travel to Dublin for further Brexit talks, that's now cancelled so she can corral MPs into supporting her tonight.

Or she could quit immediately and hand over to a caretaker leader - with her de facto deputy David Lidington tipped to be the man to fulfill this role.

Husband Philip showed his support by watching from the public gallery, while Tory elder statesman Kenneth Clarke told MPs that a leadership contest within months of the March 29 date of Brexit would be "irresponsible and unhelpful". If more than three candidates have been nominated, the one with the lowest proportion of votes is eliminated and another ballot is held.

Candidates for the leadership must be nominated by two Conservative MPs.

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