Theresa May faces grilling by her own party as she cobbles together minority govt

Theresa May faces grilling by her own party as she cobbles together minority govt
UK Prime Minister Theresa May is set to be questioned on Monday evening by a powerful committee of Conservative backbenchers after leading a disastrous election campaign, which cost the party its majority.

The prime minister will hold talks with the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, who are expected to raise questions over her leadership and the terms of deal she is seeking with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The Tory leader announced on Friday she intends to strike a “confidence and supply” deal with the Northern Irish party, which will give her the numbers she needs to get her legislative program through the House of Commons. The programe was supposed to be announced in the Queen's Speech next week, but, according to the BBC, that could now be postponed as May scrambles to form a deal with the DUP.

Cabinet ministers have warned May she must adopt a more “inclusive” approach that would see Conservative MPs becoming more involved in the business of government and policy-making.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who retained his position after a cabinet reshuffle over the weekend, said: “Clearly a minority government requires a different approach. You’ve already seen some changes in personnel in No10 Downing Street. I welcome that, of course.

“It’s going to require a different approach, we’re going to see I hope more collective decision making in the Cabinet, I and other senior colleagues have made that clear to her,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

The chair of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, echoed this view and said that a more inclusive approach is a “necessity.

“There’s no doubt that we need to see a much more open and inclusive approach within government and within parliament as well. That’s not just a desirable outcome, it’s an absolute necessity in these circumstances,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics program on Sunday.

“Trying to make a hung parliament and a minority government work requires a much more inclusive approach and bringing people into the decision-making process.”

The backbench grilling comes as May seeks to overhaul some of her manifesto pledges, which contributed to the party’s poor election showing.

Rethinking the triple lock, which secures pensions to all, and proposals to means test winter fuel payments are thought to be among the manifesto pledges being shelved in a Tory bid to win confidence votes in the Commons.

Social care plans, which include the much criticized “dementia tax,” would also be overhauled. But the scope for the Great Repeal Bill, which will transfer thousands of EU laws into British ones, is bound to remain in the Queen’s Speech next week.

There has also been speculation that May intends to soften her stance on Brexit following the appointment of staunch EU supporter Damian Green as first secretary, essentially a second in command.

Green’s promotion from the work and pensions secretary brief comes as what was supposed to be a major victory reshuffle for May turned out to be a mere tweaking of her top team. It was feared that major changes to the cabinet could cause further uncertainty and instability for the Conservative Party. 

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd also held on to their positions. The most surprising addition to the Cabinet was former leadership challenger Michael Gove, who has returned as environment secretary.

But fellow Tory MPs have backed her leadership, including Johnson, who denied he is seeking to topple May. 

“I think they have had enough of this stuff, I think what they want is for the politicians to get on, deliver Brexit and deliver on their priorities, and Theresa May is by far the best person, she is the best-placed person, to deliver that,” the Daily Mail reported him as saying.

May, however, has failed to confirm she will lead for a full term, saying she is only “getting on with the immediate job” for the time being.