Key Ally of Theresa May Clings to Office After Digging Herself Into a Bigger HoleBy
Home Secretary Amber Rudd also exposed rift over customs union
Premier’s spokesman insists May has full confidence in Rudd
Already fighting for her political survival, Home Secretary Amber Rudd plopped herself into yet another controversy on Thursday, wading into the most contentious Brexit debate and risking the ire of colleagues.
One of Prime Minister Theresa May’s most loyal lieutenants has been left clinging to office after the outrage surrounding the U.K.’s treatment of Caribbean immigrants. To make matters worse, at a lunch with parliamentary reporters, she refused to confirm if the U.K. will leave the European Union’s trade regime and made clear it was a sore topic among ministers.
When asked if one day she would want to lead the Conservative Party, Rudd told reporters: “I’m just thinking about staying in the game.” It’s been a bad week for the 54-year-old once tipped as a potential successor to May -- and it’s gotten worse.
A day after May’s core Brexit cabinet met, Rudd was quizzed if it was more or less likely that the U.K. will stay in the customs union. May has repeatedly said the U.K. will leave the EU’s trading regime and Brexit-backing Conservatives would probably try to topple her if she reneges.
But Parliament might force her into a U-turn as soon as next month, so Rudd’s unguarded comments delivered with sarcasm come at a when reports abound of infighting between factions of the governing party.
"I am afraid I am not going to be drawn at the moment," she said. "We still have a few discussions to be had in a really positive, consensual, easy way amongst some of my Cabinet colleagues in order to arrive at a final position," she added, with irony.
Rudd is known as a staunch pro-European and important ally the prime minister needs in Cabinet to balance the influence of Brexiter ministers, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Shortly after the lunch, Rudd took to Twitter to clarify her position.
“Thanks to the Press Gallery for hosting me at a challenging yet enjoyable lunch. I should have been clearer - of course when we leave the EU we will be leaving the customs union. I wasn’t going to get into ongoing cabinet discussions about our future trading relationship,” she said.
May’s spokesman has twice told reporters on Thursday that Rudd has the full confidence of the prime minister.