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Balance of power: May hangs on, but for how long?

Jun 12 2017 14:03
Andrew J Barden and John Fraher, Bloomberg

London - Theresa May will have to give the performance of her life today if she's to hang on as British prime minister.

May will this evening address Conservative Party lawmakers who are furious with her after last week's disastrous election. Two wooden TV appearances since then have only strengthened the impression that she is, as former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne says, "a dead woman walking."

READ: May faces furious UK lawmakers and cabinet in test of strength

The question is how long she can survive. True, there is little appetite for a leadership election with Brexit talks starting next week. And a deal with the small Democratic Unionist Party will prop her up at least for a bit. But whether she can survive beyond September is debatable.

The other big question is what this means for Brexit. Some senior Conservatives are already plotting to water down May’s plans for a sharp exit from the European Union. That will enrage colleagues who want a full exit from Europe's single market and all the immigration rules that come with it. So May could well end up starting the negotiations not knowing what her party’s position is.

And that’s her big problem. She looks like a prime minister who is in office - but not in power.

Global headlines

Macron wins big

As chaos reigns in the UK, French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday cemented his grip on power. The first round of legislative elections put him on course for an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly, albeit on a record-low turnout. That will give him a free hand to push through his agenda for rebooting France's economy and fighting terrorism.

Sessions agrees to testify

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, the next step in the drip-drip-drip of bad news for Trump on the Russia probes. Trump son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner reportedly has also agreed to meet this month with committee staffers to answer questions and provide documents.

Meet the new Ted Cruz

The first-term Texas senator is trying out a surprising new role. Following his failed 2016 presidential bid, Cruz wants to be a dealmaker as he attempts to unite warring Republicans around an Obamacare repeal plan. It's a fresh departure for the famously divisive Cruz, who was once described as “Lucifer in the flesh” by former Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

What is the Democratic Unionist Party?

Theresa May's decision to cut a deal with the DUP has stoked unease among progressives in her party because of the DUP's views on gay marriage, abortion and climate change. But as Bloomberg's Dublin bureau chief Dara Doyle reports, the DUP is likely to be a pragmatic partner, seeking more money for Northern Ireland and a guarantee that Brexit won't lead to the restoration of a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

More scandal in Brazil

It was supposed to be a good weekend for President Michel Temer after a top court cleared him in a campaign financing probe that could have forced him out of office. But within hours Temer was embroiled in a new controversy after a magazine said he ordered the intelligence service to spy on a Supreme Court justice. His fate - and that of the reform agenda that investors want - now lies in the hands of his largest coalition partner.

Qatar's isolation

Qatar's finance minister says the country's pockets are deep enough to defend its currency, as the Saudi-led campaign to isolate it enters a second week. The tiny Gulf nation is digging in, increasing domestic food production and importing more from Turkey and Iran, the very nation the Saudis want Doha's rulers to move away from.

Trump trolling

Delta Air Lines and Bank of America pulled out of a sponsorship deal with New York’s famed Public Theater after a production of “Julius Caesar” portrayed Donald Trump in the title role. The “depiction of a petulant, blondish Caesar in a blue suit, complete with gold bathtub and a pouty Slavic wife, takes onstage Trump-trolling to a startling new level,” the New York Times wrote in a review.

And finally... The London district of Kensington is an unlikely bastion of socialism. It's home to bankers and celebrities who are drawn to its immaculate squares and town houses. It's also the official residence of Britain’s future king, William.

And yet, on Friday it elected a Labour Party lawmaker for the first time ever, a shock on a par with a Republican becoming mayor of Los Angeles. As Matt Campbell writes, it's another example of how Brexit has added an unpredictable new dimension to British politics.

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