5 reasons why May's troubles have only just begun

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5 reasons why May's troubles have only just begun


Here’s what comes next.

1. ‘Hard’ Brexit just got harder

Formal talks on the UK leaving the EU are due to start on June 19. Senior EU officials and politicians have said May can postpone the date if she needs to, but with a final deadline for exiting the EU in March 2019, precious negotiating time would be lost if delayed.

Indeed, the prospect of a “hard” Brexit, by which the UK leaves with no deal, has shrunk with the Conservative majority, as it’s a likely “red line” for the Democratic Unionist Party, the Northern Irish lawmakers May has turned to for support in Westminster.

The DUP backs the UK leaving the EU, but on the condition its border with EU member the Republic of Ireland, remains “frictionless.”

This is likely to pose an obstacle to the types of strict border controls advocated by those in the Conservative Party who support a “hard” Brexit. A “soft” Brexit, by which the UK gets to stay in the single market and EU citizens can remain in the UK, now seems more likely but that will require a great deal of horse-trading.

The more the UK delays, the less time it will have available to reach a compromise agreement with the 27 other countries in the EU.

Nigel Farage, a member of the European Parliament and the UK’s best-known Brexit supporter said May’s credibility is now “fatally damaged in the eyes of the European Union” and that he expects “a significant backslide” on Brexit itself.

2. The DUP, a difficult partner?

DUP leader Arlene Foster, with DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, Emma Little Pengelly DUP south Belfast candidate and Gavin Robinson DUP east Belfast candidate on June 9.

The only way May has been able to form a government is to strike a partnership deal with the DUP, a socially conservative party that represents those who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

The DUP, which increased its number of parliamentary seats from seven to 10, is in a strong position to drive a hard bargain, but that has already raised alarm bells amongst socially liberal Conservative lawmakers.

The DUP is opposed to both abortion and same-sex marriage. On social welfare, the DUP is opposed to some Conservative policies that would reduce pensions, for example.

3. Will her own party play ball?

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on June 7, 2017 in Solihull.

May called the election early with the aim of shoring up support for the Conservatives ahead of the country’s crucial Brexit negotiations, but the move has clearly backfired.

Pro-EU Member of Parliament Anna Soubry brought May’s continued leadership into question in her acceptance speech. Many others have been less vocal, but with 12 fewer Conservative seats in parliament than before the election, you can be sure many are smarting if not seething, meaning a leadership challenge could soon be on the cards.

Already UK bookmakers are slashing the odds of a rival bid, with Boris Johnson once again emerging as a potential front runner.

4. Procedures to go through

May needs to draw up a budget and flesh out the policies of her manifesto.

May has already ruled out a major cabinet reshuffle, and most of the senior government members, such as the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, will maintain their posts.

But before the Queen can open the new parliament on June 19 — the same day Brexit talks were meant to start — May first needs to draw up a budget and flesh out the policies of her manifesto to put in the Queen’s speech.

It’s all a distraction at a pressured time for the Prime Minister.

5. The election has created a real opposition

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home on June 9, 2017 in London, England.

One of the main criticisms aimed at the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn before the election campaign was that he did not step up to his role as leader of the opposition.

The Labour Party was crippled by in-fighting and defections. With Thursday’s election providing 29 new Labour MPs, Corbyn’s energetic election campaign has paid off.

Having galvanized the youth, and with strong backing from the party membership, his popularity amongst parliamentary colleagues, both new and old, is set to increase. May has in effect, created an opposition that didn’t exist before.

…but she has kept Scotland

First Minister and SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon arrives at the counting hall during the UK Parliamentary Elections at the Emirates Arena on June 9, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

If there is any consolation for May and the Conservatives, it is that following Thursday’s election, Scotland is not leaving the UK anytime soon.

Prior to June 8, the leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon was pushing hard for a second referendum, after losing the 2014 independence vote. She argued that Brexit, which Scotland largely rejected, changed the scenario to such an extent Scotland should be given a second referendum.

In March, Scottish lawmakers voted 69-59 in favor of such a course, putting the SNP on track for a major collision with May, who is against another vote. It looks like Scotland at least, won’t be going anywhere soon.

CNN political analyst Jane Merrick contributed to this report. Euan McKirdy also contributed from Hong Kong.



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