May names new minister
LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a strong Brexit supporter as aid minister yesterday following a resignation that left her struggling to ward off open conflict in a cabinet divided over leaving the EU.
May is grappling with crises on several fronts. Her team is struggling to make headway in exit talks with the European Union, several ministers are embroiled in a wider sexual harassment scandal and her ability to command a majority in parliament is facing its most serious test.
Penny Mordaunt, 44, who has previously held junior ministerial roles, had a short meeting with May at Downing Street during which her appointment as the new International Development Secretary was confirmed.
Fellow Brexit supporter Priti Patel resigned from the position on Wednesday over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials that breached diplomatic protocol.
Patel’s resignation forced May into her second cabinet reshuffle in a week after former defence minister Michael Fallon resigned in the sexual harassment scandal that has also led to investigations of two other ministers including May’s deputy.
Mordaunt was elected in 2010 to represent the southern English coastal city of Portsmouth, where she also serves as a volunteer reservist for the Royal Navy. She has argued the EU is a failing institution and that leaving would help make Britain safer.
A fresh round of negotiations between Britain and the European Commission began on Thursday.
Progress in Brussels is vital to help May keep onside nervous businesses who say they urgently need to know what will happen when Britain leaves the bloc; otherwise they will be forced to start triggering contingency plans. (Reuters)