May's govt to rely on Irish unionists
Labour calls for mass protests to force PM out of power
17 June, 2017
British PM Theresa May's Conservative party was last week hectically looking for a deal to make her minority government plausible ahead of the incoming Brexit talks, news wires reported. As Britain entered deeper into political turmoil, May's team continued talks with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to secure their support in parliament after Tories failed to win a majority in last Thursday's election.
May's unsuccessful election gamble has left her so weakened that her Brexit strategy is the subject of public debate inside her party, with two former prime ministers calling on her to soften her EU exit approach. Following more than an hour of talks between May and DUP leader Arlene Foster last Tuesday, May only said the discussion had been productive, while Foster expressed hopes a deal could be done "sooner rather than later".
Separately, a senior lawmaker in Britain's opposition Labour Party has called for a million people to take to the streets to force a second election that he said would remove PM Theresa May from power, the Daily Mirror reported. John McDonnell, who would be finance minister if Labour won power, urged protesters to “get out on the streets” in support of Labour's opposition to spending cuts and to build pressure for another election, the newspaper said. “We need people doing everything they can to ensure the election comes as early as possible,” he was quoted as saying.
Despite the uncertainty over her ability to govern, May had confirmed that Brexit negotiations, expected to be the most complex international talks Britain has held for decades, would begin as planned next week. “There is a unity of purpose among people in the UK,” May said following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. But pressure was mounting for May to change course on the type of Brexit Britain should pursue.
According to The Times newspaper, Finance Minister Philip Hammond would push May not to leave the customs union, an arrangement which guarantees tariff-free trade within the bloc but prohibits members from striking third-party trade deals. So far May has given no indication she will change course on the key elements of Brexit; but whatever her plan she will be heavily reliant upon the 10 lawmakers from the eurosceptic DUP.
At the same time senior European politicians hinted that Britain would be welcomed if it changed its mind and decided to stay in the EU. “Emmanuel Macron, the new French president, spoke about an open door. That if Britain changes its mind it would find an open door,” EP Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said. “I agree. But like Alice in Wonderland, not all the doors are the same. It will be a brand new door, with a new Europe, a Europe without rebates, without complexity, with real powers and with unity.”