Mon, Mar 25, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Pressure grows on May to step down

BREXIT CRUNCH:Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told Sky News that ousting May would not help the UK and talk of a new leader was self-indulgent


British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday leaves a church service near her Maidenhead constituency, west of London.

Photo: AFP

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces growing pressure from within her own party either to resign or to set a date for stepping down as a way to build support for her Brexit agreement with the EU, British media reported yesterday.

Senior Conservative Party figures were urging May to recognize her weakened position and leave. However, there was no indication from Downing Street a resignation was near.

May thus far has been unable to generate enough support in parliament for the withdrawal deal her government and the EU reached late last year.

Lawmakers voted down the Brexit plan twice, and May has raised the possibility of bringing it back a third time if enough legislators appear willing to switch votes.

The UK’s departure from the EU was long set to take place on Friday, but the absence of an approved divorce agreement prompted May last week to ask EU leaders for a postponement.

The leaders agreed to delay Brexit until May 22, on the eve of EU Parliament elections, if May can persuade the British Parliament to endorse the twice-rejected agreement.

If she is unable to rally support for the withdrawal agreement, the European leaders said Britain only has until April 12 to choose between leaving the EU without a divorce deal and a radically new path, such as revoking the decision to leave the bloc or calling another voter referendum on Brexit.

British lawmakers might take a series of votes this week to determine what proposals, if any, could command majority support.

Conservative Party lawmaker George Freeman on Saturday night tweeted that the UK needs a new leader if the Brexit process is to move forward.

“I’m afraid it’s all over for the PM. She’s done her best. But across the country you can see the anger. Everyone feels betrayed,” Freeman tweeted. “This can’t go on. We need a new PM who can reach out & build some sort of coalition for a Plan B/”

Under Conservative Party rules, May cannot face a formal leadership challenge from within her own party until December because she survived one three months ago, but she might be persuaded that her position is untenable if Cabinet ministers and other senior party members desert her.

Her bid for fresh support for her withdrawal plan has so far failed to win backing from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.

Meanwhile, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond yesterday said that ousting May would not help the UK.

Changing prime minister would not help the UK, and talk of a new leader is “self-indulgent,” Hammond said in an interview with Sky News.

He reiterated that it was up to lawmakers to come together to find a way forward if they continue to reject May’s deal and that the government would give them time to do that in coming days.

He said that “one way or another parliament is going to have the opportunity this week to decide what it is in favor of.”

When presented with a list of possible options, he ruled out a no deal exit or revoking Article 50, but was less equivocal about the prospect of a second vote.

A second referendum is a “perfectly coherent proposition,” he said, and “deserves to be considered” along with other proposals, but he did not think there was majority in parliament for such an outcome.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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