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28 June, 2017

New UK govt held together by fear of a PM Jeremy Corbyn

After weeks of wrangling, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party agreed on Monday to give Prime Minister Theresa May the votes she needs to stay in office and push through legislation ensuring that the United Kingdom exits the European Union.

While the Democratic Unionist leader, Arlene Foster, spoke of the deal being “in the national interest” of the U.K. as a whole, commentators pointed to what looked like a massive concession to Northern Ireland’s local government — an additional 1 billion pounds in social welfare spending.

The money, though, was probably less important to the D.U.P. than staving off what it sees as a nightmarish alternative: the specter of Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, becoming prime minister.

That’s because the election campaign that just concluded, with a hung Parliament in which no single party holds a majority of seats, kicked off a remarkable surge in popularity for Corbyn. That surge, lifting Corbyn and Labour, has shown no signs of abating since the votes were cast on June 8.

The Labour leader was widely seen to have handled the aftermath of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London better than the prime minister — comforting victims as she dodged the public — and opinion polls suggest that his party would win a new election if May is unable to govern.

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