Giving a “stonking” performance, Britain’s Theresa May won a stay of execution from her Conservative Party on Monday, winning support from disillusioned lawmakers after losing a parliamentary majority at last week’s national election.
“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”, Mr Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative lawmakers, told BBC TV.
She had called the early election hoping to bolster her position and receive a clear mandate as negotiations begin over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, known as Brexit.
Yet no number of foreign summits will protect Mrs May from charges that domestic electoral failure means she is now, at best, a stopgap leader soon to be ditched by her own Conservative Party, a “dead woman walking“, as one of her main critics cruelly put it.
The Mail on Sunday’s front page announced Johnson was poised to launch a challenge to May following her disastrous election result, while the Sunday Times also reported that five cabinet ministers had “urged” Johnson to “topple” May.
The most senior ministers stayed in post, while May was forced to bring back into the Cabinet one of her long-term political foes, Michael Gove, to appease an angry Conservative Party.
Britain’s descent into political crisis just days before the Brexit talks begin has sapped confidence amongst business leaders and infuriated bosses who were already grappling with the fallout from the vote to leave the EU. “Now is the time for delivery – and Theresa May is the right person to continue that vital work”.
Despite her party’s expectations of a landslide victory, May lost her majority in parliament, pushing her into rushed talks on a support agreement with a small Eurosceptic Northern Irish Protestant party with 10 parliamentary seats.
Labour won 262 seats in Thursday’s general election, up from the 232 secured by Ed Miliband in 2015, but the Conservatives remain the largest party in parliament.
The Conservatives, led by Theresa May, are now in talks with Northern Ireland’s ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to forge an informal alliance.
The 60-year-old leader said she had tapped experience across the “whole of the Conservative Party” when she appointed Michael Gove, a long-serving cabinet minister who had clashed with May when she was home secretary, as agriculture minister.
Brexit Secretary David Davis has indicated elements of the Conservative manifesto agenda may have to be “pruned away” due to the election result.
One possible outcome of Brexit is the “hardening” of the border between UK-controlled Northern Ireland and the state of Ireland.
Mr Davis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are being given an instruction by the British people and we’ve got to carry it out”.
Davis suggested the government would focus on the divorce proceedings before moving on to trade.
The visibly weakened premier denied she was feeling “shell-shocked” after her election gamble backfired.
Ms May faced her lawmakers at a meeting of the 1922 Committee on Monday.
However, when asked about whether the Brexit talks would start for real on June 19 as planned, Winterstein said: “I can not say”.
“I don’t think she does have a majority in the House of Commons for leaving the single market”, she told Sky News.
Asked whether the government might seek a deal with the European Union that involved controlling immigration whilst remaining a member of the single market, he referred to the experience of Mr May’s predecessor as prime minister, David Cameron.
Her remarks came after Sinn Fein and other Stormont parties insisted Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire could not chair the efforts to restore power-sharing.
He says the organisation will be “holding the new government to account”, and will be pushing policies that aim to keep the United Kingdom “outwork-looking and international”.
“We understand there is a shared willingness from Britain to move ahead with these technical talks”, he added.