Tot­ter­ing May names new Cab­i­net as crit­ics cir­cle

Prime Min­is­ter role shaky af­ter dis­as­trous elec­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY JILL LAW­LESS

LON­DON | Em­bat­tled Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May ap­pointed min­is­ters to her shaky govern­ment Sun­day, as some Con­ser­va­tive col­leagues ral­lied to sup­port her — and oth­ers said her days are num­bered af­ter last week’s dis­as­trous elec­tion.

Mrs. May is seek­ing a deal with a North­ern Ir­ish party to prop up the Con­ser­va­tive mi­nor­ity ad­min­is­tra­tion, and law­mak­ers said the re­buff from vot­ers meant the govern­ment will have to aban­don planned poli­cies and re­think its strat­egy for Euro­pean Union exit talks.

A stream of se­nior law­mak­ers en­tered Mrs. May’s 10 Down­ing St. of­fice Sun­day af­ter­noon to learn what roles they had been given in govern­ment.

Mrs. May’s weak­ened po­si­tion in the party ruled out big changes. All the most se­nior min­is­ters — in­clud­ing Trea­sury chief Philip Ham­mond, For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son, De­fense Sec­re­tary Michael Fal­lon and Home Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd — kept their jobs, and there were few changes in the Cab­i­net.

Damian Green, a law­maker in the pro-EU wing of the party, was pro­moted to first sec­re­tary of state — ef­fec­tively deputy prime min­is­ter.

As ru­mors swirled about plots to oust Mrs. May, Mr. John­son de­nied he was plan­ning a lead­er­ship chal­lenge. He tweeted that an ar­ti­cle in the Mail on Sun­day news­pa­per head­lined “Boris set to launch bid to be PM as May clings on” was “tripe.”

In a What­sApp mes­sage to Con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers, Mr. John­son said: “Folks we need to calm down and get be­hind the prime min­is­ter.”

In Thurs­day’s elec­tion the Con­ser­va­tives won 318 of the 650 House of Com­mons seats, 12 fewer than the party had be­fore the snap elec­tion, and eight short of the 326 needed for an out­right ma­jor­ity. Labour sur­passed ex­pec­ta­tions by win­ning 262.

Former Trea­sury chief Ge­orge Os­borne — who was fired by Mrs. May last year — called Mrs. May a “dead woman walk­ing,” and Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn said he was ready to con­test an­other elec­tion at any time.

Many se­nior Con­ser­va­tives say Mrs. May should stay, for now, to pro­vide sta­bil­ity. But few be­lieve she can hang on for more than a few months.

“I think her po­si­tion is, in the long term, un­ten­able,” Con­ser­va­tive law­maker Anna Soubry told Sky News.

But Gra­ham Brady, who chairs the in­flu­en­tial 1922 Com­mit­tee of back­bench Con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers, said a “self­ind­ul­gent” party lead­er­ship cam­paign would only cause more un­cer­tainty.

He ac­knowl­edged that the govern­ment would now be un­able to get many of the mea­sures promised in its elec­tion plat­form through Par­lia­ment.

Mrs. May called the elec­tion called in a bid to strengthen her man­date ahead of EU exit talks. In­stead, she has left Bri­tain’s po­si­tion in dis­ar­ray, days be­fore the di­vorce ne­go­ti­a­tions are due to start on June 19.

Vot­ers failed to give a ring­ing en­dorse­ment to Mrs. May’s plan for Brexit, which in­volves leav­ing the EU’s sin­gle mar­ket and im­pos­ing re­stric­tions on im­mi­gra­tion while try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate free trade deal with the bloc.

Some say her fail­ure means the govern­ment must now take a more flex­i­ble ap­proach to the di­vorce, po­ten­tially soft­en­ing the exit terms.

Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive leader Ruth David­son, who took the party from one Scot­tish seat to 13, said there would now have to be “con­sen­sus within the coun­try about what it means and what we seek to achieve as we leave.”

To stay in power, the Con­ser­va­tives are seek­ing sup­port from North­ern Ire­land’s Demo­cratic Union­ist Party.

The two sides are look­ing to form a “con­fi­dence and sup­ply” ar­range­ment. That means the DUP would back the govern­ment on con­fi­dence mo­tions and bud­get votes, but it’s not a coali­tion govern­ment or a broader pact.

DUP leader Ar­lene Foster said “we have made good progress but the dis­cus­sions con­tinue.”

The al­liance makes some mod­ern­iz­ing Con­ser­va­tives un­easy. The DUP is a so­cially con­ser­va­tive group that op­poses abor­tion and same-sex mar­riage and had links to Protes­tant para­mil­i­tary groups dur­ing Ire­land’s sec­tar­ian “Trou­bles.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May is un­der pres­sure af­ter the Con­ser­va­tives lost their par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity in Thurs­day’s elec­tion. They lost 12 seats.

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