Brexit Brief: P.M. May looks on borrowed time amid Conservative backlash
By Bérengère Sim
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is under mounting pressure to quit or be forced out of office amid fierce opposition from within her own party to her revised Brexit deal and expectations of a crushing defeat for the Conservatives in today's European elections.
Around six cabinet leaders want May to cancel next week's vote on her "bold, new" Brexit deal, according to the Financial Times (https://www.ft.com/content/c4597cb2-7c64-11e9-81d2-f785092ab560?accessToken=zwAAAWrjz02YkdPEWXyyfGQR6dOB0veFCSq1YA.MEQCIEgD3vblDDsq_lxVokMc5SQJwRNVV5y3LlZ7wMCXSC0BAiA_qSUEldEgINtU1kHz39XQElLqpXnbJx2S5VCXs1StRg&sharetype=gift?token=2b6037dd-74b2-4fef-b285-65c3ef7b69f8). Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons and one of the six, resigned on Wednesday in protest at concessions made by May in her bid to get the deal through parliament at the fourth time of asking.
"I longer believe our approach will deliver on the referendum result," Leadsom said in her resignation letter to May, published on Twitter (https://twitter.com/andrealeadsom/status/1131267480742236160?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1131267480742236160&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fpolitics%2F2019%2Fmay%2F22%2Fandrea-leadsom-quits-over-theresa-mays-brexit-bill).
Leadsom added that a vote on whether to hold a second referendum on Brexit, which May promised MPs if they backed her latest withdrawal terms, would be a "dangerously divisive" move that she couldn't support.
The Times reports (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/theresa-may-prepares-to-quit-after-cabinet-mutiny-9mmjthtv8) today that May is close to resigning because of the mutiny over her deal.
Conservative MPs have spent recent weeks considering who they might back in the event of a leadership contest, with a number of high-profile Brexiteers -- including Boris Johnson and Leadsom -- having either indicated their intention to run or preparing bids to become the next PM.
Leadsom's decision to quit came on the eve of European Parliament elections, in which voters in the U.K. will elect 73 Members of European Parliament to represent them in Brussels.
Vocal euroskeptic Nigel Farage is predicted to emerge victorious, with polls giving his newly formed Brexit Party a commanding lead with voters. If the staunchly anti-EU party wins 35% or more of the vote, it would indicate a significant amount of voters want Brexit delivered and May out of Downing Street, explains the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/may/23/european-election-predictions-uk-parties-brexit-labour-conservatives).
Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party is predicted to finish in second place with the Conservatives on course for a humiliating wipeout.
The pound san to below $1.27 (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/22/investing/brexit-pound/index.html) in reaction to the political uncertainty, dropping as much as 0.65% against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday -- its lowest level this year.
The prospect of a no-deal Brexit and a Conservative leadership contest have meant that the pound has declined by around 2.8% in April and is heading for a 13-day-long slump against the euro.
-Bérengère Sim; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 23, 2019 04:52 ET (08:52 GMT)
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