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Theresa May Keeps Job, Still Faces Huge Brexit Challenges

London, England —(Map)

British Prime Minister Theresa May has survived a vote that would have removed her as prime minister. She still faces a nearly impossible challenge in completing a deal on Brexit.

Brexit is a word made up to describe the British Exit from the European Union (EU). In a vote on June 23, 2016, a little more than half of the people of the United Kingdom   (UK) chose to leave the EU.

In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU.
In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. But leaving the EU is not simple. The countries must make new agreements in all areas. Many people worry about having no deal at all.
(Source: Rlevente [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)

When a country leaves the EU, it loses the advantages it had as a member. The country has two years to reach new agreements. For the UK, that deadline (time limit) is coming up on March 29, 2019.

For 20 months, Ms. May has been working with leaders in the EU and the UK to try to come up with a deal that would make everyone happy. Finally, on November 25, EU leaders agreed to a very complicated deal with Ms. May’s team. It was a 585 page agreement covering the details of how the UK could leave the EU.

Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Mr Jean-Claude Junker, President European Commission.
For 20 months, Ms. May has been working with leaders in the EU and the UK to try to come up with a deal that would make everyone happy.
Ms. May stands with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.
(Source: GOV.UK [OGL 3], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Ms. May faced tough questions about the deal last week. She got in trouble for refusing to share the advice lawyers had given the government. Most people think the lawyers said the deal wasn’t good for the UK. The EU says the deal can’t be changed.

Ms. May planned to hold a vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal on Tuesday. But on Monday, she decided not to hold the vote yet. Ms. May knew her deal wouldn’t pass. Many people in her own party  had said they were going to vote against it.

Theresa May during the Munich Security conference, 2018
Ms. May faced tough questions about the deal last week. She got in trouble for refusing to share the advice lawyers had given the government.
(Source: Kuhlmann/MSC, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The deal is so unpopular that yesterday, Ms. May’s party held a “no confidence” vote. If Ms. May had lost the vote, she would have lost her position as prime minister. 200 members of her party supported her. 117 voted against her. To survive, she had to promise that after Brexit was finished, she would not try to be prime minister again.

Theresa May's first PMQs as Prime Minister
Ms. May has survived a “no confidence” vote that would have removed her as prime minister. She still faces huge challenges in getting a Brexit deal passed in Parliament.
This picture of Ms. May answering questions in Parliament is from 2016.
(Source: Photograph © UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor.)

Surviving the no-confidence vote does not solve Ms. May’s problems. The vote shows how weak Ms. May is in her own party and makes it seem even less likely that she will be able to get Parliament to agree to the deal.

The problem is that almost no one likes Ms. May’s deal. The people who want to leave the EU don’t think the deal gives the UK enough freedom. Other people want a “softer” deal that keeps the UK more connected with the EU. And many people don’t want Brexit at all. They are hoping for a second vote on whether the UK should leave the EU.

Many people don’t want Brexit at all. They are hoping for a second vote on whether the UK should leave the EU.
This picture was posted on the Internet by a supporter of the “People’s Vote” movement.

Most people believe the deal won’t be good for the UK. Still, many people worry about a worse situation – if the UK left the EU with no deal at all.

Ms. May says that she will hold a vote on her Brexit deal by January 21. She seems to be hoping that if she waits long enough, lawmakers will get so worried about not having a deal that they will agree to hers.

London, England


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