Britain’s Brexit Secretary David Davis came out in support of Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, dismissing claims made by former Finance Minister George Osborne that she had become a “dead woman walking” after a failed election gamble last week.
“I find it incredibly self-indulgent for the Tory (Conservative) party to be going for this sort of stuff,” Davis told U.K. broadcaster ITV when asked about the former Conservative Member of Parliament’s (MP’s) views on May’s poor performance at the polls.
“It is our job to get on with running the country,” he added.
May’s ruling right-wing Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority in Thursday’s snap election and will now seek the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to govern.
Osborne, now editor of London’s Evening Standard, had suggested on Sunday that May’s premiership had suffered such irreparable damage that she had become a “dead woman walking”. He also said Conservative MP’s were likely to be “furious” with the party’s campaign strategy.
The Conservatives won 318 seats in the election, eight short of an outright majority. When Theresa May announced an early election in April in order to strengthen her hand in Brexit talks, the Conservatives held 331 seats and led the left-wing Labour Party by more than 20 points in the polls.
Since the result, May has vowed to continue governing in a bid to provide “certainty” for the British people.
The U.K.’s prime minister also insisted that regardless of any perceived Westminster tumult, formal Brexit negotiations would stick to the current timetable and begin on June 19.
Speculation in Brussels has intensified in the aftermath of Britain’s vote with some EU diplomats questioning whether May could continue with her pursuit of a so-called “hard” Brexit.
Analysts at Moody’s Investor Service said in a note on Monday that while an inconclusive election outcome is a credit negative for the U.K., the increased likelihood of “softer” Brexit options being considered could be credit positive.
“While we still expect Brexit to happen and the “cliff” risk of sudden exit remains, the election result suggests an electoral shift away from the “hard” Brexit that the Prime Minister had
ostensibly sought. Hence, a move towards “softer” versions of Brexit – potentially with
continued access of some sort to the Single Market – might now be considered,” a team of analysts at Moody’s said.
However, Davis reaffirmed the government’s Brexit plans and said Britain would continue to prioritize control over its borders and that this would effectively take the U.K. out of the single market – a tariff-free trading bloc for EU members.