Britain's PM May to face party lawmakers
after election disaster
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[June 12, 2017]
By Michael Holden and Kate Holton
LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa
May will try to convince lawmakers from her Conservative Party on Monday
that she should remain as leader after a disastrous gamble on a snap
election that weakened Britain's hand just days before formal Brexit
May looked set to face criticism and anger from Conservative MPs at a
private meeting in parliament over her handling of an election that lost
the party its parliamentary majority.
The Conservatives won 318 seats out of the 650 in last Thursday's vote,
meaning they now require support to govern and have chosen the
eurosceptic Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has 10
seats, for that.
However, despite the shock result and speculation there could soon be a
leadership election, May's position appeared safe for at least the
immediate days ahead.
"I don't detect any great appetite amongst my colleagues for presenting
the public with a massive additional dose of uncertainty by getting
involved in a self-indulgent Conservative Party internal election
campaign."," Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of
Conservative lawmakers, told BBC TV.
If she fails at the meeting to reassure lawmakers that she can govern
effectively however her critics are likely to step up calls for her to
Senior figures, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who is touted
as the favorite to replace May should she be forced out, have pledged
loyalty and called on colleagues to rally behind her.
In a further bid to win over disillusioned lawmakers, May appointed
Michael Gove, a long-serving cabinet minister with whom she has clashed
in the past, as environment minister while two of her closest aides, who
many blamed for the election result, resigned.
However, George Osborne, a former finance minister who is now editor of
London's Evening Standard newspaper and a vocal critic of May, said she
appeared a "dead woman walking".
On Tuesday, May is due to meet the DUP leader Arlene Foster to finalize
a deal to ensure support for May's minority government on major issues.
Brexit Secretary David Davis said that some policies planned before the
election would be pruned back.
The political turmoil comes a week before Britain is due to start
negotiating the terms of its exit from the European Union in talks of
unprecedented complexity that are supposed to wrap up by the end of
March 2019, when Britain actually leaves.
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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Phillip arrive
at church in Sonning, Britain June 11, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
That timeline now looks even more ambitious than before, not least
because May's electoral debacle has emboldened those within her own
party who object to her "hard Brexit" approach of leaving the
European single market and customs union.
"The interpretation that we have put on it ... is that people voted
for three things in essence, control of borders, control of laws,
control of money," Davis told BBC radio.
"In order to deliver that you can't do that inside the single
market, so what do you do, you try and have the best possible access
Davis also said walking away without securing a deal with the
remaining 27 EU states remained a possibility.
The uncertainty has hit business confidence, according to a survey
by the Institute of Directors (IoD). It found a negative swing of 34
points in confidence in the UK economy from its last survey in May.
The pound slid to its lowest level for nearly two months after the
vote, but the fall was much less severe than the one sparked by the
Brexit vote in June 2016. On Monday, the currency was under pressure
"It is hard to overstate what a dramatic impact the current
political uncertainty is having on business leaders, and the
consequences could – if not addressed immediately – be disastrous
for the UK economy," Institute of Directors director general,
Stephen Martin, said.
(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout and James Davey; Editing by
Guy Faulconbridge and Louise Ireland)
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