International

UK PM Theresa May reasserts her authority after Brexit resignations

LONDON, JUL 10 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 7/11/2018 12:11:23 AM IST
British Prime Minister Theresa May moved to reassert her authority on Tuesday after two top cabinet members quit and launched broadsides against her Brexit plans, winning support from many of her ministers including a leading eurosceptic, reports Reuters.
May said she had chaired a “productive” meeting of her government, unswayed by the resignations of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit negotiator David Davis that rocked the government on Monday.
Among those rallying around the prime minister was environment minister Michael Gove - a prominent campaigner to exit the European Union alongside Johnson for the 2016 referendum - who said he would not follow suit by resigning.
With less than nine months until Britain is due to leave the bloc, May is sticking to her plan for a “business friendly” Brexit.
She looks set on facing down a rebellion in her Conservative Party, where hardline Brexit supporters are livid over her plans to negotiate “a free trade area for goods” with the EU. One described accepting EU rules as “the ultimate betrayal”.
Above a picture of her cabinet, including her new foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and Brexit minister Dominic Raab after a mini-reshuffle late on Monday, May wrote on her twitter feed: “Productive Cabinet meeting this morning - looking ahead to a busy week.”
Her spokesman said she had welcomed the new members of her cabinet and they had discussed the publication of a white paper policy document on Britain’s future ties with the EU and stepping up preparations for any no-deal outcome to the negotiations with Brussels.
Other ministers described the meeting as “very good”.
“I think it is right that the cabinet backs the prime minister and speaks with one voice and if people don’t do that then they have to go,” Justice Secretary David Gauke told BBC radio.
May must now move quickly to try to win the EU’s support for her Brexit proposal to unblock talks. These have all but stalled because of her reticence of show her cards until now for fear of angering one of the two main factions of her party.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in London later on Tuesday for a meeting with May and other leaders to discuss the Western Balkans.
The British leader may have stilled the waters over a possible leadership contest, but some Conservative Brexit supporters are still incensed over what they see as her decision to break her promise for a clean break with the EU.

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