Bri­tish pre­mier faces un­cer­tain fu­ture amid ‘oust­ing’ re­ports

Arab News - - FRONT PAGE - ALI­CIA BULLER

LON­DON: Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s po­si­tion hung in the bal­ance on Mon­day amid re­ports that dozens of MPs were back­ing a move to oust the PM, whose lead­er­ship has been bat­tered by a string of scan­dals and crises.

The Bri­tish pound sank Mon­day on un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing May’s fu­ture, but UK multi­na­tional shares were buoyed by the slid­ing cur­rency, deal­ers said.

The Sun­day Times re­ported that 40 min­is­ters in the rul­ing Con­ser­va­tive Party have agreed to sign a let­ter of no con­fi­dence in the prime min­is­ter, just eight short of the num­ber needed to trig­ger a lead­er­ship con­test.

May’s lead­er­ship was fur­ther weak­ened af­ter two Bri­tish Cab­i­net min­is­ters were forced to re­sign in re­cent weeks, one over sex­ual ha­rass­ment and the other for a se­ries of unau­tho­rized meet­ings with Is­raeli of­fi­cials.

May has been strug­gling to main­tain her author­ity in the face of a lack of a par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity, on­go­ing party in­fight­ing and com­plex Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The gov­ern­ment is also un­der pres­sure to meet a twoweek dead­line set by the EU’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier on Fri­day for a deal on exit terms ahead of the De­cem­ber EU sum­mit. “All ar­rows point to­ward change in the near fu­ture,” Matthew Good­win, Pro­fes­sor of Pol­i­tics in the School of Pol­i­tics and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions at the Univer­sity of Kent and an as­so­ciate fel­low at Chatham House, said of the in­creas­ingly pre­car­i­ous na­ture of May’s ten­ure. Good­win told Arab News that Theresa May’s po­si­tion has never looked so un­cer­tain. The pro­fes­sor said: “She faces mul­ti­ple pres­sures: Grow­ing calls to re­sign from within the Con­ser­va­tive par­lia­men­tary party, lead­er­ship ri­vals jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion in­side her own Cab­i­net, a pub­lic that has be­come far more dis­sat­is­fied with her han­dling of Brexit, busi­nesses that are un­happy with the lack of clar­ity on the Brexit deal, and on top of all of that, a frag­ile econ­omy.”

Tony Travers, di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Pub­lic Af­fairs at the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics and Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence, told Arab New that May faces a “star­tling” num­ber of dif­fi­cul­ties.

Travers said: “She lacks a par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity, she faces com­plex Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions and scan­dals at West­min­ster. Each of these chal­lenges in­ter­acts with the oth­ers. There is lit­tle clar­ity as to where the UK gov­ern­ment is head­ing, either in re­la­tion to its fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the Euro­pean Union or in terms of eco­nomic pol­icy. Only time can sort all this out.”

Theresa May

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