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Balance of Power: May Hangs On, But for How Long?

Theresa May will have to give the performance of her life today if she's to hang on as British prime minister.

May will this evening address Conservative Party lawmakers who are furious with her after last week's disastrous election. Two wooden TV appearances since then have only strengthened the impression that she is, as former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne says, "a dead woman walking."

The question is how long she can survive. True, there is little appetite for a leadership election with Brexit talks starting next week. And a deal with the small Democratic Unionist Party will prop her up at least for a bit. But whether she can survive beyond September is debatable.

The other big question is what this means for Brexit. Some senior Conservatives are already plotting to water down May’s plans for a sharp exit from the European Union. That will enrage colleagues who want a full exit from Europe's single market and all the immigration rules that come with it. So May could well end up starting the negotiations not knowing what her party’s position is.

And that’s her big problem. She looks like a prime minister who is in office — but not in power.

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Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in London on June 9, 2017.
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Global Headlines

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Meet the new Ted Cruz | The first-term Texas senator is trying out a surprising new role. Following his failed 2016 presidential bid, Cruz wants to be a dealmaker as he attempts to unite warring Republicans around an Obamacare repeal plan. It's a fresh departure for the famously divisive Cruz, who was once described as “Lucifer in the flesh” by former Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

What is the Democratic Unionist Party?  | Theresa May's decision to cut a deal with the DUP has stoked unease among progressives in her party because of the DUP's views on gay marriage, abortion and climate change. But as Bloomberg's Dublin bureau chief Dara Doyle reports, the DUP is likely to be a pragmatic partner, seeking more money for Northern Ireland and a guarantee that Brexit won't lead to the restoration of a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

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And finally... The London district of Kensington is an unlikely bastion of socialism. It's home to bankers and celebrities who are drawn to its immaculate squares and town houses. It's also the official residence of Britain’s future king, William. And yet, on Friday it elected a Labour Party lawmaker for the first time ever, a shock on a par with a Republican becoming mayor of Los Angeles. As Matt Campbell writes, it's another example of how Brexit has added an unpredictable new dimension to British politics.

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