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Key Challenges Facing May Post General Election

British Prime Minister Theresa May answers a question in a question and answer session, after delivering a speech at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) in London, Tuesday, July 11, 2017.

Election Result Means The Prime Minister Must Must Rely on Deal-Making and Compromises to Pass Legislation

by Joud Halawani Al-Tamimi

Following a lost gamble on the British general election which left Theresa May with a fragile Conservative majority in parliament, the Prime Minister has been attempting to regain political momentum. On Tuesday May said that she has to win a “battle of ideas” in Parliament and the country.

Sounding both conciliatory and defiant, May said that her “commitment to changing Britain in undimmed.” But despite her determination to shake off the rebuff from voters in the snap election and continue business as usual, the Prime Minister will be forced to navigate a minefield the next few months as challenges facing her continue to grow.

BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS

Having lost a substantial number of seats to Labour in the general election, Theresa May’s authority on Brexit negotiations stands undermined and she will be forced to make some concessions that might not be consistent with the “Hard Brexit” she has sought to deliver initially.

May’s broken stand was evident in her appeal to other parties at the parliament earlier this week: “I say to other parties in the House of Commons… come forward with your own views and ideas about how we can tackle these challenges as a country.”

While Damien Green’s interpreted May’s plea as a call for a “grown-up way of doing politics”, the Tory press was not impressed. The next day the Daily Telegraph’s headline was “May’s cry for help to Corbyn.” The Times was similarly critical; “Weakened May pleads for support from rivals.”

Unfortunately for May, the challenge she is facing over Brexit is not limited to the Labour ranks. The Prime Minister is also encountering a series of rebellions from Conservative Party colleagues over the Great Repeal and the UK’s future relationship with the European Court of Justice.

The Liberal Democrat’s Brexit spokesman Tom Brake has said to the Financial Times that the debate over the repeal bill will be “legislative war” and that the bill will “look like a Christmas tree because of the number of amendments that will be hung on it.”

WOBBLY DEAL WITH THE DUP

Theresa May’s £1 billion parliamentary deal with the Democratic Unionist Party faces the prospect of being challenged in the courts, after a crowdfunding campaign has been launched by Green party member Ciaran McClean to raise funds for the challenge.

The DUP agreed to support May’s minority conservative government in key Commons votes in return for an extra £ 1 billion more funding for hospitals, schools and road in Northern Ireland.

Ciaran McClean believes that the deal breaches both the landmark 1988 Good Friday agreement and the Bribery Act.

McClean told the Guardian that the government “has obligations under international law which are not being observed in this deal with the DUP.” He further asserted that the deal could be read as “a bribe to patch together a parliamentary majority.”

The legal team aim to issue high court proceedings this week and aim to work towards making the case heard as soon as possible. While the judges are likely to avoid such a sensitive political challenge, they could be forced to address the claim. There has already been an exchange of letters over the issue between McClean’s lawyers and the government.

Joanna Sidhu, a former litigation lawyer at CrowdJustice, told HuffPost UK: “CrowdJustice has seen a flood of donations supporting this potentially game-changing legal challenge since the campaign went live this morning, showing how powerful a community can be when given the opportunity to come together.”

TERRORISM

Britain has seen four terrorist attacks just this spring, one of which occurred in London no more than a week before election results.

Following the most recent incident, it was reported that Prime Minister Theresa May had knowledge of the extremist inclinations of at least two of the attackers albeit failed to act.

Moreover, the Prime Minister faced increasing criticism for eliminating 20,000 police jobs to cut government expenditure.

Jermey Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, told May following the London Bridge attack, “You cannot protect the public on the cheap.” Corbyn added that the police “must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts”

“Theresa May was warned by the Police Federation but she accused them of ‘crying wolf’

Police officers, including the Police Federation, have previously objected to cuts to budget on the grounds of the cuts making terror policing more difficult.

Such growing criticism adds pressure on May and her party to step up anti-terrorism measures and review the government’s current counter-terrorism strategy.

REVIVING THE ECONOMY

The UK economy has felt the impact of the Brexit vote last year both immediately and brutally. Shortly after, the British pound dropped to a 31-year low.

Meanwhile, the uncertainty that the prospect of Brexit brings with it has undermined business and investor confidence, which has in turn slowed the country’s economic growth.

At the same time, Corbyn has managed to score his strongest points by attacking the Tories for continued austerity measures. Given that the Conservatives has lost seats in parliament, the party could be forced to backtrack on austerity policies, including cuts to health benefits.

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