'Farce': No new start for May with Cabinet reshuffle

Theresa May must sell a compromise on the Brexit settlement to her own party

Far from asserting her authority, the cosmetic changes to the British prime minister's top team she unveiled on Monday highlight her failure to make her own political weather.

A new chairman of May's Conservative party was announced on Twitter, only for the tweet to be deleted and another man named for the post.

The reshuffle was meant to "refresh" May's team after a torrid 2017, when she called a snap election only to lose her parliamentary majority, and in which three of her senior ministers were forced to resign in scandals.

After last month's agreement in Brussels to move on to the second phase of Brexit negotiations, Theresa May's allies started sounding giddy about the prime minister's prospects. Damian Green was the third minister to leave the cabinet in the space of a few weeks, after the defence secretary and global development minister both quit - all three following separate scandals.

His replacement was announced on Twitter, only for the tweet to be nearly immediately deleted.

Lewis had until today been the Minister of State for Immigration and was the first minister to have been summoned to No.10 to meet with the Prime Minister this morning.

"No wonder Theresa May's struggling to negotiate Brexit - she can't even organise a reshuffle", opposition Labour MP Stephen Kinnock swiftly tweeted.

May's grip on power was weakened by her Conservative Party's poor showing in a June election, which saw it reduced to a minority government.

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He also drew fire after a protester interrupted May's speech to the party conference in October - an address that was also marred by a coughing fit and a collapsing set. He will prepare the scenarios if there is no deal.

May's Conservative Party is running neck and neck with the left-wing Labour Party in opinion polls and has been split by differences about what kind of relationship Britain should seek with the European Union after it leaves the bloc in 2019.

The EU's approach "is frequently damaging to United Kingdom interests", the Brexit minister wrote, according to extracts published by the Financial Times.

May hopes to secure agreement on a post-Brexit transition period by the end of March and to draft a withdrawal agreement by the end of the year.

Instead, it did little more than demonstrate May's weakness, with the only high-profile moves derailed when one minister quit rather than take a new job and another talked May out of changing his role.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire resigned from the Cabinet on grounds of ill health, weeks before major surgery for a lesion on his right lung. He has failed to bring together feuding political parties in the British province, where the devolved government collapsed a year ago nearly to the day.

After a hard start when her party had to delete a tweet naming the wrong person as its new chairman, May went on to promote more women, black and younger lawmakers to challenge critics who call the Conservatives "male, pale and stale".

His promotion appeared to mark a concerted effort to revitalise Conservative campaign headquarters, with the appointment of a number of younger MPs from diverse ethnic backgrounds to senior roles in the party, including former soldier James Cleverly as deputy chair.

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