Coalition of chaos? Uneasy PM May faces new Parliament

Prime Minister Theresa May, hobbled by the election results that reduced her government to a minority, has said she will approach a session of the new Parliament with “humility and resolve”.

world Updated: Jun 23, 2017 13:45 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Britain Parliament,Prime Minister Theresa May,UK minority government
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May walks through the Houses of Parliament during the state opening of Parliament in London on June 21, 2017. (Reuters)

It was one of Prime Minister Theresa May’s petphrases during the election campaign to target the opposition Labour, but the “coalition of chaos” ironically returned to haunt her as attempts to form a coalition to remain in power floundered.

As the new Parliament began on Wednesday, May – humbled and hobbled by the election results that denied her a landslide majority – promised to approach the session with “humility and resolve”. Coalition talks with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) remained unresolved.

There were signs of friction between the DUP and 10, Downing Street, with the Northern Ireland-based party cautioning Conservative interlocutors not to take its support for granted. There was much unease within the ruling party over joining hands with the DUP.

The minority May government presented its Brexit-dominated agenda in the Queen’s Speech (equivalent to the President’s Address to the opening of Indian parliament) on the opening day. Its passage in Parliamentis crucial to the May government’s continuance in office.

The speech promised a new immigration bill, among other things, but significantly omitted Conservative plans that proved controversial during the election campaign, and made no mention of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Britain.There has been much protest and opposition to the visit in the UK.

Queen Elizabeth II sits alongside her son Prince Charles as she delivers the Queen's Speech during the state opening of Parliament in London on June 21, 2017. The Queen formally announced the British government's legislative programme. The state opening, a ceremony full of pomp in which the monarch reads out the Queen's Speech detailing the government's programme for the coming year, was due to take place on June 19 but was delayed after Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party lost its majority in the House of Commons in the June 8 election. (AFP)

Queen Elizabeth said during the scaled-down opening ceremony: “A bill will be introduced to repeal the European Communities Act and provide certainty for individuals and businesses. This will be complemented by legislation to ensure that the United Kingdom makes a success of Brexit, establishing new national policies on immigration, international sanctions, nuclear safeguards, agriculture, and fisheries.

“My government will seek to maintain a deep and special partnership with European allies and to forge new trading relationships across the globe. New bills on trade and customs will help to implement an independent trade policy, and support will be given to help British businesses export to markets around the world.”

Besides the phrase “coalition of chaos” to mock the possibility of a Labour-led coalition, May’s campaign was criticised for the over-use of the promise to offer “strong and stable” leadership. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn returned the favour, by saying he looked forward to the Queen’s Speech “just as soon as the coalition of chaos has been negotiated”.

“Just to let the House and the rest of the nation know, if that’s not possible, the Labour Party stands ready to offer strong and stable leadership in the national interest,” he said.

First Published: Jun 21, 2017 19:38 IST