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May on walking holiday as her ministers seek consensus on Brexit plan with Labour

16 Apr 2019, 00:14 ( 3 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
British Prime Minister Theresa May. File Photo Xinhua.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has headed to the mountains of Wales with her husband as ministers in London continued to search for a Brexit breakthrough.

   An official spokesperson at 10 Downing Street confirmed Monday that May had left London to go on a walking holiday.

   Political commentators recalled that it was on a walking holiday in Wales in 2017 that prompted the prime minister to call a general election.

   Instead of winning a bigger mandate from voters, May saw a government with a slender majority replaced by a minority government with fewer than the 326 seats needed to stay in full control.

   May is not thinking about holding an election, her spokesperson is said to have told Reuters Monday.

   Following the 2017 election May reached a supply and confidence arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland.

   Their 10 MPs gave May a wafer-thin majority in the House of Commons.

   The Daily Telegraph reported Monday that tensions have grown between May's Conservative government and the DUP recently after DUP MPs at Westminster repeatedly refused to back May's Brexit deal. The DUP accused her of failing to stand up to the European Union on the Irish border backstop issue.

   It is a failure to resolve the border issue on the island of Ireland that has caused a logjam in Brexit negotiations.

   Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a BBC interview on Monday that talks between the Conservative government and the main opposition Labour Party to find consensus over a Brexit plan are more constructive than people think.

   "Talks we are having with Labour are detailed and I think more constructive than people have thought. They are more detailed and more constructive than people had been expecting on both sides. But we don't know if they are going to work," Hunt said.

   Cabinet Office minister and de facto deputy prime minister David Lidington said meetings between government ministers and their opposite numbers from Labour are due to continue this week. But so far no timetables for talks have been published.

   Following an extension to Britain's departure date until Oct. 31, granted last week by the EU Council, Britain now has just 199 days to reach an agreement that will enable it to leave the bloc without facing a no-deal exit.