U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faces a vote Wednesday that could oust her from her leadership position, as members of her own Conservative Party seek a no-confidence vote.
“I will contest that vote with everything I have got,” she said Wednesday. She added that changing the Conservative leader would “put our country’s future at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it,” according to the BBC.
If a majority of Conservative lawmakers vote against May, other Conservative leaders will jostle for the position in a contest that could take weeks. She could remain prime minister through this contest and resign when her successor is chosen, but she may also choose to step down immediately and allow another to serve in the interim. According to NPR, there could be calls for a general election in this scenario. And if May wins, but only barely, she may still decide to stand down.
If May wins the vote, she will be able to serve as prime minister for another year without a challenge from her party. Publicly, she appears to have the numbers she needs. According to the BBC, 174 Conservative members of parliament—she needs 158—have said they would vote for her, while 34 have said they would vote against. However, the vote will be done by secret ballot and is therefore harder to predict.
May warned that if she were replaced, there would inevitably be a delay or even halt to the already drawn-out Brexit process, as any deal would have to be renegotiated. She also said that changing leadership would not “change the fundamentals of the negotiation or the Parliamentary arithmetic.”
Britain faces a deadline of March 29 to leave the European Union. Some of those calling for May’s departure support a hard Brexit, with no deal or measures to safeguard the nation’s economy. The Conservative members of parliament who challenged May believe she is not working toward the Brexit voters were promised in the 2016 referendum and that her deal will keep the U.K. tied to the EU indefinitely.
The call for the vote came two days after May delayed a vote on the Brexit deal she negotiated with the EU, as she knew it would not be approved in Parliament. The controversial deal would keep Britain in a customs union with the EU, at least for a time, in order to avoid the imposition of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
May’s ousting and other delays would increase the likelihood of a “no-deal” Brexit, in which the U.K. would revert to trading with Europe under WTO rules. Experts have warned the effects of this scenario could be dire for the British economy.
The vote will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Eastern.
This post has been updated with new information since it was originally published.