UK prime minister's top aides resign after election fiasco

Posted June 12, 2017

The two top aides to British Prime Minister Theresa May resigned Saturday, shouldering some of the blame for an election that proved a disaster for the Conservative Party, a headache for Britain's exit from the European Union - and potentially a fatal blow to May's premiership.

The error is hugely embarrassing for May who ran her election campaign on the basis that only she is capable of negotiating Brexit. The party is seeking support from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to stay in power.

Katie Perrior, who quit as May's communications chief in April, said Timothy and Hill were "great street fighters but poor political leaders" and exercised too much power over the prime minister.

Liberal Democrat Vince Cable, who served as a minister in the previous coalition government, called on details of a deal struck between the two parties to be published.

Her Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn, once written off by his opponents as a no-hoper, said May should step down because he wanted to form a minority government.

Several Conservative lawmakers have warned that May can not carry on indefinitely, after throwing away a 17-seat majority in the 650-seat House of Commons. It would give May a working majority. That means the DUP will back the government on key votes, but it's not a coalition government or a broader pact.

"We want to do it quickly, respecting the calendar We were waiting for the election in Britain, but in the next few days these talks will begin", she said.

No 10 had earlier said the DUP had agreed the principles of a deal and it would be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Monday.

She plans to lead a minority government with the support of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party.

"We welcome this commitment, which can provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond", he said.

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, Corbyn signaled that with the backing of Tory backbenchers, his party will try and amend the Queen's Speech - a ceremonial event at the opening of the new government where the queen reads out a text on future government policies - and believes that they have enough opposition in numbers following last week's election.

"What that would allow the DUP is to say: we are not just acting in the interests of Northern Ireland".

It was also likely to seek to include Northern Ireland in the "Military Covenant", which ensures that veterans of the British armed forces receive priority medical treatment in the remainder of the United Kingdom.

Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said that any co-operation between the Tories and the DUP would be over "big security and economic issues" as well as Brexit.

On Sunday, May appointed former BBC journalist Damien Green as First Secretary of State - effectively May's deputy Prime Minister - in a reshuffle of her cabinet. Seven of them belong to labour party and three to conservatives.

It was a surprise move - Gove was sacked as justice minister by May a year ago after his bid to become party leader forced now-foreign minister Boris Johnson from the race, amid accusations of treachery and political backstabbing. The DUP is anti-gay marriage, opposes abortion and has a track record of denying man-made climate change.

That list included a demand for a cut in Northern Ireland's corporation tax rate to help it attract foreign investment.

May's co-chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, handed in their resignations on Saturday following the disastrous election, called by May to strengthen her position ahead of talks to leave the European Union, but which in the end left her weakened.