LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May was fighting for survival on Saturday after a failed election gamble undermined her authority and plunged the country into a major political crisis days before talks to leave the European Union start.
May’s bet that she could strengthen her hand by crushing what she believed to be a weak opposition Labour Party backfired spectacularly on Thursday as voters stripped her Conservative Party of a parliamentary majority.
The stunning outcome leaves May battling to unite different factions of her party and reliant on a handful of Northern Irish parliamentarians just nine days before Britain starts the tortuous process of negotiating its departure from the EU.
Britain’s typically pro-Conservative press savaged May and questioned whether she could remain in power only two months after officially triggering the country’s divorce from the European bloc.
Owen Paterson, a senior Conservative lawmaker, said “let’s see how it pans out”, when asked about May’s future.
“It is not the outcome any of us would have wanted in the Conservative Party. But we are nine days off from the Brexit talks starting,” he told BBC Radio
After confirming on Friday that her top five ministers, including finance minister Philip Hammond, would keep their jobs, May was expected to appoint a team that will take on one of the most demanding negotiations in British history.
She said Brexit talks would begin on June 19 as scheduled, the same day as the formal reopening of parliament.
If she is to succeed in delivering the wishes of 52 percent of the public and take Britain out of the EU, she must find a way to secure the full support of her party to pass legislation preparing for and enacting the departure. — Reuters