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British PM regroups after election setback

London: British Prime Minister Theresa May was expected to name the rest of her cabinet on Saturday after a crushing election setback, just days before Brexit talks begin.

Members of her Conservative party have warned May her days are numbered after calling Thursday’s vote three years early, only to lose her parliamentary majority.

But senior figures also cautioned against an immediate leadership election, as the government prepares to start talks on leaving the European Union around June 19.

May announced Friday she would seek to form a minority government with the help of a small Northern Irish party, the pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). She failed to express contrition for her gamble that spectacularly backfired, but newspaper headlines reflected the sense that she has been deeply wounded.

“May fights to remain PM,” headlined the Conservative-supporting Daily Telegraph headlined, while the Daily Mail said: “Tories turn on Theresa”. “From hubris to humiliation,” said the left-leaning Guardian. “May stares into the abyss,” wrote The Times, while The Sun said succinctly: “She’s had her chips.”

Some Conservative lawmakers called for May’s joint chiefs of staff, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, to be sacked for their key role in the election campaign. May confirmed Friday that senior ministers would remain in their posts, despite rumours that she had been ready to sack finance minister Philip Hammond following a clash over her Brexit strategy.

The prime minister has vowed to pull Britain out of Europe’s single market in order to end mass migration from the bloc, despite fears of the economic impact.

European Council President Donald Tusk has warned there was “no time to lose” in starting talks, after May started the two-year countdown to Brexit on March 29.

Despite earlier saying that a cabinet meeting had been scheduled for Saturday, a spokesman said May would not be holding one but would name more members of her cabinet.

AFP