May asks Labour for support in tough times
LONDON: Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May is urging the opposition to help shore up her minority government as it leads the UK out of the EU.
The appeal comes nearly a year after May took office, and just over a month after she suffered a massive setback from voters in a snap election.
May plans to use a speech today to urge the opposition to help hone policy, saying the government’s ideas can be “clarified and improved” through debate and discussion. Extracts of the speech were released in advance by May’s office.
May became British leader on July 13 last year through a Conservative Party leadership contest after predecessor David Cameron resigned when voters decided, against his advice, to quit the EU. She called an early election for June 8 in an attempt to bolster her majority and strengthen her authority during EU exit talks.
The gamble backfired when voters stripped the Conservatives of their majority in Parliament and boosted the number of seats held by the Labour Party.
The result means May must rely on deal-making and compromises to pass legislation, and is struggling to persuade her party she is not a lame duck.
It has also emboldened opponents of Brexit, who hope to make the government take a more conciliatory line in divorce talks with the EU.
The election setback has led the government to abandon many of the pledges May campaigned on, including plans to reform secondary education and make seniors pay more for their long-term care. Instead, the government says it will devote its energy to trying to pass the laws needed to pave the way for Brexit – due to take place in March 2019.
Now, May is seeking to reboot her premiership, harking back to a promise on her first day in office to “forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world and… make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.”
May today will urge opposition parties “to contribute, not just criticise”.
“We may not agree on everything, but through debate and discussion ideas can be clarified and improved and a better way forward found,” she plans to say.
May’s most senior cabinet minister, Damian Green, said the speech was an appeal for “a grown-up way of doing politics”. And despite rumours of Conservative plots to oust May, Green told Sky News “the prime minister is determined to carry on to lead the party and the country for many years”.