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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

UK premier faces new rumblings against leadership

Theresa May faces rebellion from within her own party over her Brexit strategy

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves a news conference at the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves a news conference at the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a renewed challenge to her leadership this week from members of her own party, who are furious about the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations.

Mrs May has been invited to speak at a meeting of her party politicians on Wednesday and could face a no-confidence motion within days if she fails to convince them she is the best person to lead the Conservatives, according to UK news media reports on Sunday. Officials did not confirm whether she would attend the meeting.

David Davis, her former Brexit secretary who quit the Cabinet in July over the prime minister's negotiating stance, is preparing the ground for a leadership challenge, according to The Mail on Sunday. He is said to have been discussions with fellow rebel and potential challenger Boris Johnson.

Mrs May’s position has been at threat since her decision to call a snap election last year, which backfired and left her administration relying on the support of a small Northern Irish party to pass key legislation.

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Mutinous rumblings have since been heard at regular intervals during the UK’s troubled negotiations with Europe about the country’s planned departure from the European Union in March next year.

Threatened plots to oust her have so far come to nothing but rebels claim that they are on the brink of securing enough support under party rules to trigger a no-confidence vote.

The strongest anti-EU campaigners within her party have been angered by the prime minister's consideration of plans for an extended transition period after Brexit in March next year that would allow Britain to continue some form of free trading arrangement without having any say over its rules.

The increasing possibility of a failure to secure any deal with Europe on future relations after March 2019 has also provided extra drive for anti-Brexit campaigners, who mobilised an estimated 670,000 protesters to march in London at the weekend to demand a new vote.

“This week Theresa May will find that she is drinking in the last chance saloon,” Andrew Bridgen, a ruling party politician and critic of the Prime Minister, was quoted as saying by The Mail on Sunday.