Published: Wed, June 14, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

British PM Theresa May apologises to own MPs for 'election mess'


Last evening, May faced the tough 1922 Committee of her party's backbench MPs amid a brewing rebellion within the ranks after her gamble to call a snap general election backfired, leaving the Tories eight seats short of a majority.

Following London talks with the DUP, May will head to Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron who has just won an impressive victory in parliamentary elections.

A spokeswoman for May's office said the cabinet had discussed the DUP talks that could lead to a confidence and supply arrangement.

Barnier held "talks about talks" with May's Brexit advisor Olly Robbins and British EU ambassador Tim Barrow in Brussels on Monday but they failed to agree on a date for the negotiations to begin, an EU official said.

Sir John Major has warned Theresa May that the deal she is attempting to strike with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to stay in Downing Street could put the Northern Ireland peace process at risk.

She reportedly apologised to Tory MPs, accepting personal responsibility for failing to win an outright victory and sacrificing the parliamentary majority she inherited from David Cameron when she became leader after the Brexit referendum past year.

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.

Mrs May was last night forced to tell Tory MPs: "I'm the person who got us into this mess, I'm the one who will get us out of it".

In a surprise move, Michael Gove was appointed environment and agriculture minister less than a year after the prime minister sacked him as justice minister. He told Sky News that the reality of the election result meant that May and her government would need to reach beyond party lines.

As Mrs Foster met with her MPs in Westminster, she said: "The future's bright", prompting Ian Paisley junior to respond: "The future's orange".

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

In a phone call on Sunday, Kenny told May that forming a minority government reliant on the support of the hardline DUP could pose a "challenge" to the 1998 Good Friday peace accords.

Foster's rivals in Northern Ireland, such as Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, have objected, describing any partnership between the Conservatives and the DUP as "a coalition of chaos".

The stakes for May are high as lawmakers return for their first day of business Tuesday.

And the pressure on Mrs May has increased even further after the Government admitted that the Queen's speech would be delayed.

It will also raise questions relating to Brexit: the DUP was the main Northern Irish party to be in favour of Brexit in a region that otherwise voted heavily to remain in the European Union (55.8% of voters wanted to remain in the E.U. last June).

What's more, at a time when the UK is facing a political upheaval and the British government is heading into the critical Brexit talks with a weakened and disunited position, the European Union and its two key pillars, Germany and France, are in a very united, strong and upbeat mood.

"Next week, it will be three months after the sending of the Article 50 letter".

"My preoccupation is that time is passing, it is passing quicker than anyone believes because the subjects we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex".

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