May to face Tory backbenchers following disastrous election result

Jane Richards
June 13, 2017

May's Conservatives unexpectedly lost their majority in Parliament in last Thursday's snap general election, causing political chaos ahead of the Brexit talks with the European Union which are set to start next week.

Addressing what is known as the Conservative's 1922 committee, May told the politicians: "I got us into this mess, and I'm going to get us out of it".

Those talks in Brussels could also be delayed, but the government insist the two-year Brexit timetable would still be adhered to.

Mrs May vowed to stay on despite the poor results, and on Sunday unveiled a largely unchanged new cabinet, which met for the first time on Monday.

British PM Theresa May has told her MPs she will serve as Prime Minister as long as they want her to, following a botched election gamble that cost the party its majority in parliament and weakened London's hand days before formal Brexit negotiations.

"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, the 1922 committee chairman, told BBC TV.

"The debate over soft versus hard Brexit is back on the table - and soft Brexit now has more points of influence", Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst with Eurasia Group, wrote in a briefing note. "Now is the time for delivery and Theresa May is the right person to continue that vital work".

The Conservatives are having to rely on the support of 10 DUP MPs after they fell eight seats short of winning an overall majority in the June 8 snap general election.

DUP leader Arlene Foster is due to meet Mrs May on Tuesday for crunch talks, which could force the delay of the government's presentation of its legislative programme to parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, due on June 19.

Scotland voted by 62 percent to remain in the European Union in last year's historic referendum but it wasn't enough to change the overall United Kingdom result, with 52 percent in favor of leaving.

Even senior Tories like the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, one of their few success stories at the moment, told us yesterday "it can't just be a Tory Brexit".

David Davis, the cabinet member in charge of Brexit, said talks with the European Union may not start on Monday because it would clash with the Queen's Speech, but they will still begin next week.

Davis, who was re-appointed as Brexit minister by Theresa May over the weekend, said any talk of her being removed from power was wrong.

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 go.

Davis also suggested the government would focus on the divorce proceedings before moving on to trade. Gove, a long-time opponent who was dismissed when May became prime minister a year ago, will now serve as environment secretary.

An MP who attended the meeting said their was no discussion of how long Mrs May would remain as leader of the Conservatives, since "she's won, she's got to be Prime Minister". "We believe in the Union, we believe in national stable government and that will be at the forefront of our mind going into these talks again tomorrow".

The session had originally been scheduled for Tuesday, but was brought forward a day so that May could explain the status of her efforts to ally with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party before any deal is finalized.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the government was not looking at a formal coalition but would seek assurances that the DUP would vote with May "on the big things" such as the budget, defence issues and Brexit. He stressed he did not share their ultra-conservative views on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, which have caused disquiet among many Conservatives.

London's neutrality is key to the delicate balance of power in Northern Ireland, which was once plagued by violence over Britain's control of the province.

Other reports by VgToday

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