By Arab News
By Alicia Buller
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s position hung in the balance on Monday amid reports that dozens of MPs were backing a move to oust the PM, whose leadership has been battered by a string of scandals and crises.
The British pound sank Monday on uncertainty surrounding May’s future, but UK multinational shares were buoyed by the sliding currency, dealers said.
The Sunday Times reported that 40 ministers in the ruling Conservative Party have agreed to sign a letter of no confidence in the prime minister, just eight short of the number needed to trigger a leadership contest.
May’s leadership was further weakened after two British Cabinet ministers were forced to resign in recent weeks, one over sexual harassment and the other for a series of unauthorized meetings with Israeli officials.
May has been struggling to maintain her authority in the face of a lack of a parliamentary majority, ongoing party infighting and complex Brexit negotiations.
The government is also under pressure to meet a two-week deadline set by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Friday for a deal on exit terms ahead of the December EU summit.
“All arrows point toward change in the near future,” Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent and an associate fellow at Chatham House, said of the increasingly precarious nature of May’s tenure. Goodwin told Arab News that Theresa May’s position has never looked so uncertain.
The professor said: “She faces multiple pressures: Growing calls to resign from within the Conservative parliamentary party, leadership rivals jockeying for position inside her own Cabinet, a public that has become far more dissatisfied with her handling of Brexit, businesses that are unhappy with the lack of clarity on the Brexit deal, and on top of all of that, a fragile economy.”
Tony Travers, director of the Institute of Public Affairs at the London School of Economics and Political Science, told Arab New that May faces a “startling” number of difficulties.
Travers said: “She lacks a parliamentary majority, she faces complex Brexit negotiations and scandals at Westminster. Each of these challenges interacts with the others. There is little clarity as to where the UK government is heading, either in relation to its future relationship with the European Union or in terms of economic policy. Only time can sort all this out.”