UK Elections: Smith renews call for May to exit




British Prime Minister Theresa May should announce her departure date following poor local election results, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said on Saturday, renewing an earlier call for her to go before this month’s European elections.

Theresa May was now a “caretaker prime minister”, Duncan Smith told LBC radio.

May needed to set an immediate date for her departure, or a committee of senior Conservative members of parliament should do it for her, LBC reported him as saying.

Meanwhile, governing Conservatives need to be open to compromise with the opposition Labour Party in order to deliver Brexit following heavy losses in Thursday’s local elections, senior ministers said on Saturday.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives lost 1,332 seats on English local councils that were up for re-election and Labour, which would typically aim to gain hundreds of seats in a mid-term vote, instead lost 81.

Many voters expressed frustration at May’s failure to have taken Britain out of the European Union, almost three years after the country decided to leave in a referendum.

“If local elections down south tell us anything, they remind us that referendum verdicts must be honoured,” the environment minister, Michael Gove, told a conference of Scottish Conservatives in Aberdeen.

Health minister Matt Hancock gave a similar message in a BBC radio interview. “I think we need to be in the mood for compromise,” he said.

Labour has demanded guarantees on workers’ rights and a permanent customs union with the EU as a condition for supporting an EU withdrawal deal.

May’s government has opposed a customs union, preferring a looser arrangement that would allow Britain to strike its own trade deals with countries outside the EU.

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