In Brief

Is Theresa May's cross-party strategy weak or wily?

Prime Minister to urge opposition to 'contribute not criticise' as rumours grow of leadership bid

Theresa May is to call for cross-party unity this week in an attempt to bolster her precarious minority government.

She is expected to deliver a speech tomorrow urging opposition parties to "come forward" with their own ideas for policy and to "contribute, not just criticise", raising questions about whether the Conservative leader is being pragmatic or pitiful.

In what The Times calls "an admission of her political weakness," the Prime Minister is to pledge to be more open and conciliatory, while urging all MPs to work together to shape a “better way forward” for Britain after Brexit.

Downing Street sources told The Guardian May's conciliatory tone reflected "pragmatism about the new parliamentary arithmetic", which gives her a slender majority of seven with the support of the DUP.

"It is quite an about-turn from the speech she gave when she called the snap election in April," says The Times's Matt Chorley, when she claimed her political opponents were "jeopardising" Brexit preparations and "weakening" the government’s negotiating position.

Labour's Andrew Gwynne has already dismissed the proposals, saying the Tories were "having to beg for policy proposals from Labour".

"Undoubtedly," says The Guardian, May will "need the support of the Labour frontbench to implement Brexit, including the passage of the repeal bill – due to be published this week – that sets out how EU law will be transposed into British law".

But "given her lifelong instinct of trusting only a tight-knit team around her, can May reach out to her own party, let alone Labour and others?" asks the Huffington Post's Paul Waugh. 

A time to compromise?

May's comments are also likely to "spark fear among pro-Brexit Conservatives that she is willing to compromise on their ambition for a hard Brexit," says the Daily Telegraph

The Prime Minister has so far resisted calls from pro-Europeans in her party to water down her plans for Brexit, but the new parliamentary reality means she may have to soften her stance.

"There are seven Tory MPs who have already gone public calling on a finessing of May's European Court of Justice (ECJ) red line," says the New Statesman's Stephen Bush.

This would allow the court to continue to have jurisdiction on matters such as research, flights and nuclear exchange, where Britain will continue to have a direct relationship with the European Union.

On the issue of the ECJ red-line, one Tory MP told Bush "it's not a matter of if Downing Street backs down, but how much damage they suffer before they back down."

Davis threat

May's "leadership is at its weakest," adds the Telegraph, and there are "open calls by Tory MPs for her to stand down following her failure to secure a majority at the election".

According to The Mail on Sunday, former Conservative chief whip Andrew Mitchell last month told a dinner of Tory MPs the Prime Minister needed to be replaced.

One MP at the dinner said: "Mitchell effectively said [May] was dead in the water. He said she was weak, had lost her authority, couldn’t go on and we needed a new leader. Some of us were very surprised and disagreed with him.”

Mitchell is an ally of Brexit Secretary David Davis, who appears best placed to unseat May.

He is also "one person who could more credibly make a genuinely big, bold offer to Labour," says the Huffington Post's Paul Waugh, "precisely because he would be trusted by his own side not to sell out on the big principles, while being pragmatic enough on how to deliver them".

Bush agrees, saying Davis "has the credibility among Leavers to sell the concessions that the new parliamentary arithmetic forces."

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