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U.K. Prime Minister Will Try To Form Minority Government

  • RFE/RL

British Prime Minister Theresa May says she will work with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP) to try to form a minority government after her Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority in a snap election.

May spoke on June 9 after going to Buckingham Palace and securing Queen Elizabeth II's permission to form a minority government.

May did not specify whether she would make a formal coalition with the DUP or would try to work with it through a so-called "confidence and supply" arrangement whereby the DUP would support the government in exchange for concessions.

But standing in front of 10 Downing Street, May said her Conservatives and the DUP would work together to "fulfill the promise of Brexit."

Her office announced that May would retain the minister in charge of Brexit negotiations, David Davis, in a new cabinet.

Also to return are at least four others: finance chief Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, and Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.

May is seeking to stay in office and guide Britain through crucial talks on exiting the European Union that are set to begin on June 19.

The prime minister confirmed she intended to start talks with the Europeans as planned, vowing to "fulfill the promise of Brexit."

"It is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist Party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that," she said.

With 649 out of 650 seats in the House of Commons declared on June 9, the Conservatives had secured 318 seats -- eight short of the 326-seat minimum needed to command a parliamentary majority.

The DUP secured 10 seats in the June 8 vote.

May 'Should Be Ashamed'

Sky News reported on June 9 that the DUP was considering a "confidence and supply" arrangement that allows the Conservatives to form a new government.

But the Conservatives and the DUP differ on some key issues including details of Britain’s exit from the EU.

The Conservatives could be forced to compromise in order to secure the DUP's support.

May faced calls to quit from the opposition and her own party, but vowed to stay on and provide "stability" for the country as her depleted party seeks to build support for a new government.

The opposition Labour Party came in second place in the June 8 vote to secure 261 parliamentary seats.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said those results were a victory for his opposition party and that May should resign.

Liberal Democratic leader Tim Farron said May "should be ashamed" and should resign "if she has an ounce of self respect."

Clock Ticking On Brexit Deal

May had called the June 8 early election in an attempt to strengthen her negotiating position at the Brexit talks but instead lost the Conservatives' overall majority in Parliament.

The Conservative Party is expected to have 12 fewer seats in the House of Commons than it had in April, when May called the early election.

Meanwhile, the clock has already begun ticking toward a March 2019 deadline for Britain to successfully negotiate a Brexit deal with Brussels.

Some EU leaders say the Conservatives' loss of their majority weakens Britain's negotiating position in the Brexit talks and could delay the talks, which are due to start on June 19.

They say the election results also raise the risk that the negotiations will fail.

EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger told German radio on June 9 that the talks, which the EU wants to ensure a legally smooth British departure in March 2019, would be more uncertain without a strong negotiating partner.

"We need a government that can act," Oettinger said. "With a weak negotiating partner, there's the danger than the negotiations will turn out badly for both sides...I expect more uncertainty now."

French politician Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said the election result would affect the negotiations but declined to be drawn on whether the EU executive hoped Britain might ask to stay.

Moscovici told Europe 1 radio that Brexit was supported by most of the last parliament following the 2016 referendum and that the timetable for leaving in 2019 was not "optional" but fixed in treaty law.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on June 9 that he hopes Britain’s election results won't cause further delays in the start of the Brexit talks.

But Michael Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said the talks should start when Britain is ready.

With reporting by Reuters, BBC, Sky News, AP, dpa, and AFP
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