‘We are right behind you Mrs May’ – MPs back PM
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The region's Conservative MPs are backing embattled prime minister Theresa May '100pc' as she faces a make-or-break confidence vote.
Enough letters have been received by Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the Tory backbench parliamentary group the 1922 Committee which conducts leadership contests, to prompt a vote.
The prime minister now requires a simple majority backing from her MPs. If she wins she cannot be challenged for another 12 months, if she loses a leadership contest will begin.
In a defiant message outside Downing Street she said: 'Sir Graham Brady has confirmed that he has received 48 letters from Conservative MPs so there will now be a vote of confidence in my leadership of the Conservative Party.
'I will contest that vote with everything I've got.'
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She added: 'We must and we shall deliver on the referendum vote and seize the opportunities that lie ahead, but the Conservatives must not be a single issue party. We are a party of the whole nation – moderate, pragmatic, mainstream; committed to reuniting our country and building a country that works for everyone; the agenda I set out in my first speech outside this front door; delivering the Brexit people voted for; building a country that works for everyone.
'I have devoted myself unsparingly to these tasks ever since I became Prime Minister and I stand ready to finish the job.'
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And she quickly won the backing of some of our region's MPs.
The veteran Tory MP for North West Norfolk Sir Henry Bellingham said he backed Mrs May '100pc'.
'She has been brave, determined and unbelievably conscientious in doing her level best to serve the national interest,' he said. 'Although by no means perfect, her Withdrawal Agreement is our best chance of delivering Brexit.
'I deplore this attempted coup which is undermining the PM at a time when she is in the middle of key negotiations. I am already receiving a large number of messages of support from the constituency. I will be giving her my 100pc support.'
And Waveney MP Peter Aldous said he would also be giving his full support to the prime minister – and felt that it was wrong to face a vote like this at such a crucial time for the country.
'I will be supporting her, and I would be absolutely staggered if she failed to get the votes she needs tonight,' he said. 'Obviously the size of the vote will be important but I am confident she will be able to continue with the very important talks and votes over the next few months.'
George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said he would back the PM but suggested she should stand aside after Brexit.
'This is madness,' he said. 'We are in the final stages of negotiating to implement Brexit with a deadline in January. It's no time to indulge in a two-month party leadership contest. I'll support the PM to get Withdrawal through the House and then she should stand aside in the summer for a new leader.'
Broadland MP Keith Simpson said he would vote for the PM and cabinet ministers Matt Hancock, West Suffolk, Brandon Lewis, Great Yarmouth, and Liz Truss, South West Norfolk, all added their support for Mrs May.
The result is due at around 9pm this evening.