Thursday, 19 October, 2017

British PM fights back after plot to oust her

Theresa May's new shoes Theresa May's new shoes Credit AFP
Lillian Steele | 07 October, 2017, 00:47

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was hoping to rally the troops behind her with a speech at the Conservative Party's conference.

Shapps also said this came from across the party, including those who wanted to leave the European Union, remain and those "somewhere in the middle" like himself.

"A lot of the people who were there in the hall and watching it on TV will have admired, frankly, the guts and the grace the PM showed", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The interrupted speech is the latest in a string of difficulties faced by Theresa May since her poor performance at the last general election, which saw her lose a huge lead in the opinion polls and fall short of maintaining the Tory majority.

May's leadership shattered after the United Kingdom snap parliamentary election in June, which, despite its initial goal to unify the political leadership ahead of Brexit negotiations, resulted in a hung parliament and prompted the Conservatives to agree on a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

But those loyal to the prime minister said it was clear that the rebels lacked the 48 MPs they needed to force a contest under the party rules, and questioned whether they could even muster as many as 30.

The prime minister is struggling to reassert her authority after she gambled on an early election in June.

The former cabinet minister and chairman of the Conservative party said he had meant to keep his plot to topple the prime minister secret but May's aides leaked his name to The Times, forcing him into the open.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who goaded her in the run-up to the event with outspoken interventions on Brexit, gave May his full support in his speech on Tuesday.

"Hi Boris Johnson, I gave Theresa her P45 just like you asked", he later wrote on Twitter.

But she is under growing pressure over negotiations in Brussels, while the increasing popularity of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn poses a threat.

The 61-year-old Mrs May also said she did not mind being called the "Ice Maiden", but that unlike many of her critics, she came from lowly beginnings, something that convinced her of the need of what she called the "British Dream".

One senior Conservative said May must show "personality, vision and confidence" in her speech and offer "delegates hungry for ideas" something new. "It would be better if she were to start the process, with a new leader before Christmas". I support her to continue.

The Prime Minister's famous red ministerial box is also visible in the picture, which had been retweeted more than 500 times within 10 minutes of being posted.

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