LONDON - The attempt to oust Theresa May by Conservative MPs may have failed tonight - but this was not a victory for the prime minister.
More than a third of Conservative MPs declared their lack of confidence in the prime minister meaning that her chances of getting her Brexit deal and the legislation needed to implement it through Parliament look even more distant than they did before.
On Monday, May was forced to cancel the parliamentary vote on her Withdrawal Agreement due to fears that she would lose by more than 100 votes. Tonight she lost the public support of 117 MPs in her own party alone.
With just seven Conservative MPs required to vote against her deal for it to fail, and with the Democratic Unionist Party still committing to vote it down, the prospect for May's deal look bleaker than ever.
And without the ability to pass that deal, the chances of May's premiership and government surviving until the end of the Brexit process look slim.
It could have been even worse for the prime minister. The result tonight came only after May was forced to declare that she will stand down before the next scheduled general election in 2022.
Yet by making that commitment, May has merely triggered the starting gun on the race to replace her.
When the prime minister returns to talks with the European Union in Brussels on Thursday she will do so as a leader whose days are, by her own admission, now numbered.
And crucially she will do so as a prime minister who has lost the support of both the DUP which props up her minority government and a huge chunk of her own party as well.
When the former prime minister Margaret Thatcher lost the support of 200 of her own MPs she was forced to resign.
Tonight May lost the support of a much bigger percentage of her parliamentary party and she did so at a time when she needed their support in parliament to a much bigger degree than her predecessor.
In both examples the game was up for the prime minister. The only difference is that while Thatcher realised this, May apparently has not.
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