U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May survived a leadership challenge Wednesday, and will remain in office at at the head of her ruling Conservative Party as she attempts to push a controversial Brexit deal through parliament despite widespread disapproval from opposition lawmakers and party colleagues.
Party members voted 200-117 in favor of keeping May in place as Prime Minister, easily passing the threshold of 159 in a simple majority vote. Under Tory party rules, members cannot challenge May for at least another year.
The pound, which traded as low as 1.2484 during the early European session, rebounded more than 1.2% to trade at 1.2610 but was pared gains as investors noted the more than 100 lawmakers that voted to oust her, suggest she is a weakened leader in a divided House of Commons.
Even with today's leadership challenge victory, May still faces the same problem she did 48 hours ago when she postponed a key Parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal while admitting it had no chance of passing the House.
May then spent a day meeting with several EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, each of whom reiterated to the Prime Minister that her deal cannot and will not be renegotiated.
Members of her Conservative party who pushed for the leadership challenge issued a statement today, insisting that her plan "would bring down the government if carried forward,"
"Our party will rightly not tolerate it," lawmakers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker said. "Conservatives must now answer whether they wish to draw ever closer to an election under Mrs May's leadership."
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn also rounded on May during Prime Minister's Questions Wednesday in Parliament and demand she call for a vote on her Brexit plan before the Christmas break. He also repeated his attack in a statement following the leadership vote.
"Tonight's vote makes no difference to the lives of our people," Corbyn said. "The Prime Minister has lost her majority in parliament, her government is in chaos and she is unable to deliver a Brexit deal that works for the country and puts jobs and the economy first."
"That's why she pulled the vote on her botched Brexit deal this week and is trying to avoid bringing it back to parliament," he added. "It's clear that she has not been able to negotiate the necessary changes in Europe."
May's failure to extract more detailed assurances on the main sticking point of her Brexit framework -- the so-called Irish backstop -- means it remains unlikely, if not impossible, to find enough support in the 435 seat House of Commons where May's party has a narrow majority of only 13 seats.
In essence, the backstop is a portion of the agreement that commits both the U.K. and the EU to the prevention of "hard border" between the Republic of Ireland (and EU member state) and Northern Ireland, a U.K. territory, should trade talks fall down and Britain leaves the Customs Union of the bloc.
Brexit supporters don't like the backstop agreement because Britain can't unilaterally exit from it, while Brexit opponents say the fact that it's needed in the first place suggests the Brexit deal offered to the public in the 2016 referendum simply can't be delivered.
EU leaders have said they're happy to help with "clarification" on the backstop, but have uniformly insisted that it is too late to change the text of the 585-page deal struck with May last month.