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MAY FACES UNCERTAIN FUTURE AS RIGHT-WING PRESS TURNS ON BRUISED PM

June 10, 2017 | Uhuruspirit

British Prime Minister Theresa May



After an election letdown that has severely dented her parliamentary clout, British Prime Minister Theresa May was facing reports of deep disquiet in her Conservative party Saturday.

Britain's right-wing media, which had rallied behind May's election campaign and against the opposition Labour party, changed its tune in the wake of the snap election, citing concerns over the way she had conducted the campaign and rumours of a challenge.

"Theresa May fighting to stay in Downing St as senior Tories ponder leadership challenge," the staunchly Conservative Daily Telegraph headlined, using the party's nickname.

May announced Friday she would build an administration bringing in support from the hardline Protestant Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to give her a fragile majority in parliament.

May's two closest aides announced their resignation on Saturday in the face of vociferous criticism from within the Tory party.

"I take responsibility for my part in this election campaign, which was the oversight of our policy programme," outgoing chief of staff Nick Timothy said via the party website.

A party spokesman confirmed that his colleague Fiona Hill had also resigned.

The Telegraph said there had been calls within the party for the two to go, or May would face an immediate challenge to her leadership.

A particular point of contention was a plan to reform financing of care for the aged that was immediately dubbed a "Dementia Tax" and withdrawn in an embarrassing U-turn by May.

The result of Thursday's elections marked a major blow to the prime minister, who had called the snap poll in a bid to boost her parliamentary majority ahead of crucial negotiations with the European Union over Brexit - set to begin on June 19.

The gamble failed, with the Conservative party losing its strong polling lead over the course of the campaign.

In the face of pressure to resign and rumours of mounting dissatisfaction, the prime minister insisted she had the "legitimacy" to continue to lead the government, despite suffering a loss of 13 seats in the 650-member House of Commons.

Final results gave May's Conservatives 318 seats to 262 for the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn. The DUP's 10 seats push May to 328, two seats above the threshold for a working majority.

But problems immediately loomed for May amid concerns over her new ally, the DUP, with critics decrying the regional party's opposition to gay marriage and abortion.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said she would insist on gay and lesbian rights, including the right to marry.

Davidson, a practising Protestant, is planning to marry her partner Jen Wilson, an Irish Catholic, in a same-sex union.

She has led a Conservative resurgence in Scotland, providing crucial backing to May's slender majority and dealing a severe blow to the separatist Scottish National Party (SNP), whose number of seats plunged to 35 from 56.

As she battled to form her cabinet amid depleted resources, May made clear there would be no major changes.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Brexit Minister David Davis will all stay in office.

Pre-election talk had been that Hammond would be sacked, as well as possibly Johnson, if May gained her anticipated landslide.

Reflecting the sharp change in May's fortunes, London bookmakers were taking increasing bets on Saturday that Johnson would soon move to topple May.

- dpa



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