THERESA May has staved off a leadership challenge after she won a secret ballot of Conservative MPs on whether they want to keep her at the helm of the party.

The confidence vote was 200 for and 117 against - giving her the support of 63% of the Tory MPs.

The result was greeted by cheers and applause from Tory MPs as it was announced by backbench Tory chairman Sir Graham Brady.

Theresa May speaking outside Downing Street said she was "pleased to receive the backing of my colleagues in tonight's ballot", and said she had listened to the "significant number" who voted against her.


Theresa May speaks outside Number 10 following the vote.

But she added that "we need to get on with the job of delivering a Brexit that delivers on the vote" and "bring the country back together rather than entrenching division".

And at at the end of what she called "a challenging day" she called for politicians on all sides to come together and act in the national interest.

The Prime Minister's ballot victory came after she made a last-minute appeal for support at a meeting of backbench MPs in which she said she would not lead the party into the next scheduled election in 2022.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says it has been a difficult day for the party but MPs have by a "substantial margin" backed Theresa May with a "strong show of support".

Cabinet minister Chris Grayling added: "This has hardly been a joyful day for the Conservative Party but it has voted very comfortably that it wants her to stay, wants her to take us through Brexit."


But Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg (above), who led calls for the confidence vote, said it was a "terrible result for the prime minister" and called on her to resign having "lost the support of the backbenches".

And Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP at Westminster echoed Mr Rees-Mogg's call saying: "117 Tory MPs have no confidence in @theresa_may. We have no confidence in the Tory Government, they must go.

"Scotland must be saved from Brexit that is the immediate priority but we must say to Scotland if we want an alternative to Westminster chaos it is independence."


The vote of confidence was triggered in her leadership after 48 Conservative MPs called for one to be held.

The win means that she will get immunity from another formal challenge for a year.

In the hours since the announcement that a Conservative leadership contest had been triggered, nearly 170 Tory MPs declared their support for Theresa May on Twitter.

That put her comfortably past the 158 of 315 MPs she needed to survive – although the caveat was that in the official ballot, there was no way to know how many of them are telling the truth.

Despite that there were reportedly signs of nerves among party managers ahead of the vote in Committee Room 14 at the Palace of Westminster.

MPs began voting between 6pm and 8pm with the result emerging at 9pm.

After the vote Mrs May emerged fron 10 Downing Street and said she would go to the European Council on Thursday and seeking "legal and political assurances" to stave off concerns that the Northern Ireland backstop could continue indefinitely if Britain does not agree a final Brexit deal.

She said: "Here is our renewed mission, delivering the Brexit that people voted for, bringing the country back together and building a country that truly works for everyone."

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds earlier said his party, which helps keeps the Conservatives in power, remainedconcerned about the Irish backstop plan, which most MPs were against.

"I don't think this vote really changes anything very much in terms of the arithmetic," he said.


At the end of Mrs May's address, one journalist asked if she could get her Brexit deal through the House of Commons, she turned to walk back into Number 10.

The Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he was "glad" about the result.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson praised the Mrs May's "cojones of steel" ahead of Tory MPs backing her in a confidence vote.