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UK Conservatives rally around beleaguered PM Theresa May ahead of Brexit talks

14 Juin 2017

About two hours after the talks began, May emerged from 10 Downing Street without saying anything and left in a vehicle.

The talks with the DUP follow May's apology to Conservative rank-and-file lawmakers in a meeting Monday which signaled she would be more open to consultation, particularly with business leaders demanding answers about the details on Britain's departure from the European Union.

The snap election backfired for May, who lost 13 seats and an overall Conservative majority while the centre-left Labour camp climbed by 30 parliamentary seats, completely contradicting early poll predictions. The results quickly sparked widespread commentary about how long she can stay on as prime minister.

The Conservatives won 318 seats in last week's election, eight short of a majority, and therefore need the support of at least one other party to pass key legislation in Parliament.

But there were signs that not all was going to plan.

Hours before heading to meet the committee, Conservative officials disclosed the Queen's Speech, an address the monarch delivers outlining the legislative agenda of a new government, would be delayed.

A leading Conservative MP who was present at the 1922 committee meeting told the Guardian newspaper later that May was "contrite and genuine but not on her knees" as she apologised to MPs for the election result that cost the Conservatives its majority in the House of Commons.

But Johnson insisted that May has his full backing.

"I got us into this mess, and I'm going to get us out of it", May told her party MPs. Most of her electoral promises will have to be ditched, either because they are unpopular or because they are no longer achievable.

While the DUP are deeply eurosceptic, they have balked at some of the practical implications of a so-call hard Brexit including a potential loss of a "frictionless border" with the Republic of Ireland and talks will touch on efforts to minimise the potential damage to Northern Ireland.

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In a bid to stave off a leadership challenge, May has avoided making major changes to her Cabinet, leaving those most likely to challenge her for the leadership in the positions they held before last week's election. The Evening Standard, edited by ex-Treasury chief George Osborne, reported that Cabinet ministers have initiated talks with opposition Labour lawmakers to come up with a "softer", less hard-line divorce from the EU.

Anna Soubry, a former minister who campaigned last June for Britain to stay in the European Union during the Brexit referendum, said May's position was "untenable".

The Prime Minister's grip on Brexit was vanishing as the two sides manoeuvred for power in the Cabinet and the Conservative Party.

The political upheaval has not only created worries in Europe, but also appears to have crossed the Atlantic.

The FM wants membership of the European single market and the customs union to be "at the heart" of a new way forward, with the rights of EU nationals living in the United Kingdom guaranteed with immediate effect.

Asked whether Trump had spoken to May about postponing his trip to London, which remains unscheduled, White House spokesman Raj Shah said Sunday: "The president has tremendous respect for Prime Minister May".

David Davis has signalled that discussions on the UK's exit from the European Union (EU) may not start on June 19 as anticipated.

But he said his Conservative colleagues were "massively disappointed" after the election debacle, and that May needed to lead in a "much more collegiate" fashion.

The petition has been drawn up in the wake of widespread criticism of the proposed deal with the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to keep the minority Conservative government in power. During the election campaign, May had used the "coalition of chaos" phrase to describe what a victory for Labour would look like.

There are mounting fears that the voting alliance with the DUP risks unraveling the Northern Ireland peace process, which relies on the British government acting as a neutral broker between the DUP and the Catholic nationalist Sinn Fein.

UK Conservatives rally around beleaguered PM Theresa May ahead of Brexit talks