UK Conservatives rally around beleaguered PM Theresa May ahead of Brexit talks



Associated Press

Senior members of British Prime Minister Theresa May's government rallied to her defence amid doubts over her ability to remain in power following a disastrous election result.

The EU says it's ready, but Prime Minister Theresa May is still trying to tie down power
Source: 1 NEWS

As the Conservative Party digested the loss of its majority in last week's election, government officials suggested both the announcement of the prime minister's agenda, known as the Queen's Speech, and talks over Britain's divorce from the European Union could be postponed.

Sky News reported the speech would be delayed a few days - a highly unusual circumstance in a country where the monarch's schedule is determined months in advance.

The possible delays come as critics urge cross-party discussions to reach a consensus on Britain's exit from the EU. May's failure to get a majority has undercut her tough Brexit strategy, which had raised fears that Britain was heading for a so-called "hard Brexit," which could potentially see tariffs slapped on British exports to the bloc.

May moved to demonstrate that she understands the frustration of voters by moving up a meeting with rank-and-file Conservative Party lawmakers, some of whom have called for her to step aside sooner rather than later. The meeting will now be held Monday afternoon instead of Tuesday.

1 NEWS Europe correspondent Emma Keeling brings us the latest after a weekend of drama in British politics.
Source: Breakfast

The prime minister's most prominent potential rival, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, sought to quash any suggestion that she would be ousted imminently.

Writing in the mass-circulation Sun newspaper, Johnson stressed that the Conservatives won more votes than at any time since Margaret Thatcher and are still the largest party in Parliament.

"The people of Britain have had a bellyful of promises and politicking," he wrote. "Now is the time for delivery - and Theresa May is the right person to continue that vital work."

With opinion polls showing the Conservatives had a commanding lead over the opposition Labour Party, May called an early election in hopes of increasing her majority in Parliament and strengthening her position in Brexit negotiations.

Instead, the election stripped May of her majority and obliterated her political authority. The Conservatives are now trying to secure the support of Northern Ireland's 10 Democratic Unionist Party lawmakers to assure passage of May's programme,

Over the weekend, May's top two aides stepped aside. Many in the party were furious at the pair for shutting them out of decision-making during the election campaign.

May also restored former Justice Secretary Michael Gove to the Cabinet in another move designed to show she was willing to listen to critics. Gove, a long-time opponent who was dismissed when May became prime minister last year, will now serve as environment secretary.

Conservative leaders on Monday sought to shift the debate away from May's wounded leadership and onto complex Brexit talks, which are formally set to begin next week.

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