'I will contest that vote with everything I've got' - May cancels Dublin trip to fight for job

"I will contest that vote with everything I've got."

That was the defiant message from Theresa May as she announced that she was cancelling a meeting with Leo Varadkar to try to win her vote of no confidence later this evening.

"I was due to travel to Dublin to continue that work but will remain in London," she said referring to her meeting with her Dutch and German counterparts yesterday adding that the vote of no confidence was not "in the national interest".

"The British public want us to get on with it," she stated outside Number 10 Downing Street.

"We must and we shall move ahead with the referendum vote."

The vote was triggered the vote after 48 Tory MPs sent letters seeking her resignation just hours after Ms May was warned by EU leaders there will be no changes to the Brexit backstop deal.

In a statement this morning, the chair of the back bench 1922 committee Graham Brady said the required 48 letters needed to force a vote has been reached.

"The threshold of 15% of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of no confidence in the leader of the Conservative party has been reached," he said.

One of those who handed in a letter was Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen.

He says he lost hope in Mrs May after her appeal to European leaders yesterday was apparently rebuffed:

"Effectively the Prime Minister has been drowning politically and Angela Merkel is throwing buckets of water at her.

"It's not a good position to be in, I don't think Theresa May can lead us forward now."

However, Ms May hit back at the party colleagues saying that this vote threatened to hand Brexit negotiations "to opposition MPs."

"One of their first acts," she said of a prospective new Prime Minister, "would be extending or rescinding Article 50 - delaying or even stopping Brexit."

The result of the confidence vote is expected at 9 o'clock tonight.

Teresa May needs more than half of the 318 MPs to back her to remain in office.

Labour's Barry Gardiner says there should be a general election instead of a confidence vote:

"I'm not interested quite honestly in a change simply in Prime Minister," he said.

I think what we need is a change of Government to address the real problems that there are in our society

Here is Theresa May's speech, delivered outside Number 10, in full:

"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.

"I have been a member of the Conservative Party for over 40 years. I've served it as an activist, councillor, MP, shadow minister, home secretary and now as Prime Minister.

"I stood to be leader because I believe in the Conservative vision for a better future; a thriving economy with nowhere and nobody left behind; a stronger society where everyone can make the most of their talents - always serving the national interest.

"And at this crucial moment in our history, that means securing a Brexit deal that delivers on the result of the EU referendum, taking back control of our borders, laws and money, but protecting jobs, our security and our precious union as we do so.

"Through good times and bad over the last two years, my passionate belief that such a deal is attainable, that a bright future lies ahead for our country, has not wavered and it is now within our grasp.

"I spent yesterday meeting (German) Chancellor (Angela) Merkel, (Dutch) Prime Minister (Mark) Rutte, (European) President (Donald) Tusk and (European Commission) President (Jean-Claude) Juncker to address the concerns that MPs have with the backstop, and we are making progress.

"I was due to travel to Dublin this afternoon to continue that work, but will now remain here in London to make the case for my leadership with my parliamentary colleagues.

"A change of leadership in the Conservative Party now will put our country's future at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it.

"A new leader wouldn't be in place by the 21st of January legal deadline, so a leadership election risks handing control of the Brexit negotiations to Opposition MPs in Parliament.

"The new leader wouldn't have time to renegotiate a Withdrawal Agreement and get the legislation through Parliament by the 29th of March, so one of their first acts would have to be extending or rescinding Article 50, delaying or even stopping Brexit, when people want us to get on with it.

"And a leadership election would not change the fundamentals of the negotiation or the parliamentary arithmetic.

"Weeks spent tearing ourselves apart will only create more division, just as we should be standing together to serve our country. None of that would be in the national interest.

"The only people whose interests would be served are Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

"The British people want us to get on with it and they want us to focus on the other vital issues that matter to them too - building a stronger economy, delivering first class public services and the homes that families need. These are the public's priorities, and they must be the Conservative Party's priorities too.

"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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