UK PM Theresa May isolated after election fiasco as key aides quit

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11 June, 2017

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, indicated on Twitter that the European Union was prepared to show some patience, making it clear that talks should not begin until the political situation had settled in the UK.

May's Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority in Thursday's vote and need the support of the 10 MPs from Northern Ireland's DUP to have a majority.

"Shock for May", said The Daily Telegraph, a conservative broadsheet.

"The Conservatives have not yet broken the British system of democracy, but through their hubris and incompetence they have managed to make a mockery of it", it said in an editorial.

Mrs May insisted only the Tories and the DUP have the legitimacy to form a government and hailed their "strong relationship".

Brexit failed to emerge as a major issue in the campaign, as both the Conservatives and Labour said they would respect voters' wishes and go through with the divorce. Theresa May has also been known for her regular gaffes: she congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on the birth of his grand-daughter (even though nothing of the sort had happened) or she claimed to be wants to "lead the world in the prevention of tourism".

The prime minister has vowed to pull Britain out of Europe's single market in order to end mass migration from the bloc, despite fears of the economic impact.

But Elmar Brok, a German conservative and the European Parliament's top Brexit expert, told the Ruhr Nachrichten newspaper the talks would now be more complicated.

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In her final message to voters, May tried to put the focus back on Brexit.

The Financial Times business daily said May "seeks to cling to power with N. Ireland party", referring to the Democratic Unionists, on whose support she will now rely.

But the wooing of the DUP risks upsetting the political balance in Northern Ireland by aligning London more closely with the pro-British side in the divided province, where a power-sharing government with Irish nationalists is now suspended.

But the Protestant DUP was founded to defend Northern Ireland's place in Britain against demands by Catholic republicans for a united Ireland.

The DUP is "likely to increase the pressure on Theresa May to secure a comprehensive free trade agreement", said Stephen Booth of the Open Europe think tank. The news came as Ms May prepared to name the rest of her Cabinet, after revealing on Friday that her five most senior ministers would remain in their posts. "One of them is country, one of the others is LGBTI rights", she told the BBC.

She inherited a 17-seat majority in the Commons, but called the snap vote to take advantage of opinion polls putting her on course for a landslide.

Although she had pledged to finish out the full term of her predecessor, David Cameron, May changed her mind and sent the country into an unexpected contest, lured by the opportunity to comprehensively defeat a Labour opposition led by Jeremy Corbyn, a left-wing extremist disliked within his own caucus, who had appointed a life-long communist to act as his communications boss and proposed renationalizing a host of industries. Mostly, the European Union mood was one of frustration that the already tough Brexit talks were likely to become only more hard. "She seems to have found it very hard to kind of do the baby-kissing part of campaigning".

May had spent the campaign denouncing Corbyn as the weak leader of a spendthrift party that would crash Britain's economy and flounder in Brexit talks, while she would provide "strong and stable leadership" to clinch a good deal for Britain.


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