UK's Theresa May seeks respite from Brexit walking in Wales
By JILL LAWLESS | Mon, April 15, 2019 11:27 EDT
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May is getting a respite from Brexit with a walking holiday in Wales — but there is no pause for political rivals hoping to take over her job.
The prime minister's Downing Street office said Monday that May and her husband, Philip, started a short vacation on Saturday.
Britain's Parliament is on an Easter break until April 23, after months of bruising battles that saw lawmakers reject May's European Union divorce deal three times.
May enjoys hiking in the Welsh mountains. During a visit there in 2017, she infamously decided to call a snap election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations. Instead, she lost her parliamentary majority and has struggled ever since to push through her EU withdrawal plans.
Asked whether May was considering another election, spokesman James Slack said: "No."
Meanwhile, several of May's Cabinet colleagues were spending the break raising their profiles ahead of an anticipated leadership contest.
May has said she will step down once Britain has ratified a divorce agreement with the EU — although with Parliament still deadlocked, it's unclear when that might happen. Pro-Brexit members of the Conservative Party are already demanding she quit for so far failing to take Britain out of the EU.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid, one likely contender, gave a high-profile speech Monday on knife crime that stressed his humble roots and childhood in a crime-plagued neighborhood.
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leading Brexiteer, warned in the Daily Telegraph that politicians must "leave the EU, and do it properly" or face the wrath of voters.
Leaders of the 27 remaining EU nations agreed last week to delay the deadline for Brexit until Oct. 31 — the second extension the bloc has given Britain.
If Parliament does not approve May's withdrawal plan, Britain faces an abrupt exit from that could lead to a deep recession as tariffs and other barriers are imposed on U.K. exports and customs checks delay goods at British ports.
The government has held talks with the left-of-center opposition Labour Party in an attempt to find a compromise that can win the backing of Parliament. So far there has been no breakthrough, but negotiations are continuing.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt — another potential successor to May — said getting Brexit finished was the government's "absolute priority."
"This is a focus of, not just Theresa May, but the whole Cabinet," Hunt told the BBC. "Everyone recognizes this. It is also what the country wants as well."
Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.