Pressure builds on U.K. PM Theresa May to quit
Theresa May is facing her final humiliation. After almost three years as British prime minister, the 62-year-old vicar’s daughter took one final gamble yesterday to win support for her Brexit deal. It backfired instantly.
The question now is this: Can anyone rescue Brexit or will the U.K. ultimately be forced to crawl back to Brussels and cancel the divorce?
May opened the door to a second referendum in a bid to to resolve the impasse in Parliament, but her offer convinced nobody. With European Parliament elections this week expected to be catastrophic for her Conservative Party, the pressure is growing on May to quit now and make way for a new leader.
What Brexit looks like will largely depend on who gets her job. Pro-Brexit former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson is the favorite — and he wants a quick, clean break.
The European Union could simply decide to extend the October exit deadline yet again. But, as May noted yesterday, that will come at a cost. “Extending it for months more — perhaps indefinitely — risks opening the door to a nightmare future of permanently polarized politics,” she said. Britain’s bad dream continues.
Widening dragnet | The U.S. is considering blacklisting five Chinese tech titans — including video surveillance giant Hikvision — amid concerns over the role of its hardware in both espionage and President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on ethnic Muslims. A ban would raise questions about whether U.S. President Donald Trump is targeting more Chinese tech companies. Xi appears to be steeling himself, calling on citizens to join a “new Long March,” a phrase he’s used to characterize resilience.
Sealing the deal | Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez aims to build on momentum from his Socialist Party’s general election win last month in European, regional and municipal voting on Sunday, locking down his second term. Meanwhile the battle for another top European position is focusing on Angela Merkel. Several European colleagues have urged the German chancellor to stay on the scene as president of the leaders’ council. Merkel has said she’s not interested in another political role.
Hong Kong alarm | Former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten has lashed out at a proposed law that would allow extraditions to China, saying it would break Beijing's “one country, two systems” promise. The bill is the “worst thing” to happen in the city since its 1997 handover to China from the U.K., he said in an interview with Rosalind Mathieson, warning the financial hub risks being subjected to Chinese “rule by law.”
Populist push | Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on the verge of a landslide win, according to exit polls, with votes counted tomorrow in India’s marathon election. He’s managed to drown out criticism of his government’s unmet promises and poorly-delivered programs with appeals to nationalism that have rallied voters. If he does secure a second term, he’ll face an unemployment crisis and a softening economy — major challenges in a country of 1.3 billion people.
Jihadists' rebirth | Islamic State is countering its setbacks in the Middle East by stepping up operations across Africa, where a mix of poverty, corruption and weak governments is providing fertile recruiting ground. As Paul Wallace reports, the jihadist group had more than 6,000 fighters on the continent last year in countries such as Nigeria and Mali, and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, promised in an April video that Africa will be a land of rebirth.
What to Watch
- Trump is due to meet today with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on ways to finance a blockbuster infrastructure package. It comes as tensions run high between Trump and Pelosi over his defiance of congressional investigations.
- At least six people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes between police and supporters of defeated Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto. It's the worst political violence to hit Jakarta in two decades.
And finally... As the 2020 U.S. presidential race heats up, North Korea has jumped into the fray, calling Democratic contender Joe Biden a “snob bereft of elementary quality as human being”. The official KCNA news agency also criticized Biden for his university grades and for falling asleep at a speech by President Barack Obama in 2011. During the Obama administration, the U.S. took a stern line on Pyongyang, refusing to hold talks unless it first agreed to dump its nuclear weapons program.
--With assistance from Ruth Pollard, Ben Sills, Karen Leigh and Alan Crawford.