EghtesadOnline: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will face furious lawmakers from her Conservative Party on Monday in a showdown that could signal the end of her premiership a day after she was forced to promote prominent Brexit hardliners in her bid to cling to power.
May, who will chair a meeting of her new Cabinet in the morning, will hear first-hand the anger of rank-and-file members of Parliament who blame her for the catastrophic election campaign that saw the Tories lose their parliamentary majority in Thursday’s general election, according to Bloomberg.
“I’m sure there will be lots of colleagues wanting to air their concerns about the way the campaign was run and the situation in which we find ourselves,” Graham Brady, the lawmaker who heads the backbench 1922 committee, told BBC Radio. It “clearly isn’t where we wanted or expected to be following the general election,” he said.
Ministers, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Trade Secretary Liam Fox, rallied to May’s side, saying the time is wrong for a leadership challenge or another general election. Johnson had earlier been forced to deny newspaper reports that he would try to unseat May.
“To those that say the PM should step down, or that we need another election or even -- God help us -- a second referendum, I say come off it. Get a grip,” Johnson wrote in Monday’s Sun newspaper. “Now is the time for delivery -- and Theresa May is the right person to continue that vital work.”
May named Michael Gove, who unsuccessfully ran against her for the party leadership last year and whom she then fired from the Ministry of Justice, as her new environment secretary. She also promoted another leadership challenger, Andrea Leadsom, from the environment job to leader of the House of Commons, responsible for steering legislation through Parliament.
May’s plans have been thrown into turmoil along with the U.K.’s entire political landscape following Thursday’s vote. The premier was unable to carry out wholesale cabinet changes that had been mooted before the election, with most ministers staying in the same jobs. She did promote her close friend, Damian Green, previously the work and pensions secretary, to first secretary of state, making him her second in command.
May appeared to acknowledge her time was limited, when she was asked if she would stay in her post until the next election, scheduled to be held in 2022.
“I said during the election campaign that if re-elected I would intend to serve a full term,” she told Sky Television on Sunday evening in her official London residence. “But what I’m doing now is actually getting on with the immediate job -- and I think that’s what’s important.”
One sign of May’s weakness is the appointment of Gove, who ran for the Tory leadership in the wake of the Brexit referendum after betraying an earlier agreement to back Johnson.
A rift between Gove and May developed during the premier’s time in the Home Office and his in the Department for Education in David Cameron’s coalition government and she fired him when she became prime minister. As one of the leading cheerleaders for Brexit, Gove will now have to unravel the complex end to EU subsidies for Britain’s farmers.
“I’m pleased that people from across the party have agreed to serve in my Cabinet and we’re going to be getting on with the job of Government,” May said. The public “want to see government providing that certainty and stability at what is a critical time for the country.”
Trade Secretary Liam Fox said May was “positive” in his meeting with her on Sunday and backed her to see through the two years of Brexit talks, which are due to begin in a week’s time.
“It’s time for the whole of the Conservative Party to rally behind the prime minister,” Fox told Sky News. “I have absolute faith in her, I think she’s the best person to take this country forward.”
The cabinet appointments followed a night of chaos over May’s bid for an agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to support her government. Her office was forced to admit it hadn’t achieved a final deal just hours after announcing that it had.
May will meet with DUP leader Arlene Foster in London on Tuesday as she seeks to secure the support of the party’s 10 lawmakers for her program, making up for the Tories’ nine-seat shortfall in the Commons. The Conservatives will be unable to pass controversial legislation without the DUP, the only minor party willing to countenance backing May.
May will drop a series of pledges from the Tory manifesto which it would be too difficult to get through parliament, The Daily Mail reported late on Sunday, without saying where it got the information. Protected increases in payments to retirees and fuel subsidies for the elderly will be maintained and an expansion of selective education scrapped, the paper said.
The changes and appointments may not save the prime minister according to one former cabinet colleague.
“Theresa May is a dead woman walking,” George Osborne, whom May fired as chancellor of the exchequer and who now edits London’s Evening Standard newspaper, told BBC Television. “It’s just how long she’s going to remain on death row.”