Theresa May relaunches her leadership: ‘The general election result was not what I wanted’

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Theresa May outside Downing Street.
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REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON -Theresa May today relaunched her premiership following her failure to win a majority in last month’s general election.

Speaking in central London on Tuesday morning, May admitted that the general election result “wasn’t what I wanted,” but said that her “commitment remains undimmed” as Britain enters a period of “great national change”.

“I am convinced that the path that I set out in that first speech outside Number 10 and upon which we have set ourselves as a government remains the right one,” she insisted.

She called on other parties to contribute ideas to government.

“We can play it safe or we can strike out with renewed courage and vigour, making the case for our ideas and values and challenging our opponents to contribute, not just criticise,” she said.

The prime minister was speaking at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce after a difficult month for the PM for the launch of the much-anticipated Matthew Taylor review of employment practices in the modern economy. The report is set to lay out what regulations and safeguards the UK government should consider putting in place in order to protect employees in the era of the gig economy.

May admitted that when she first commissioned the report her command of parliament was much stronger.”When I commissioned this report I led a majority government in the House of Commons. The reality I now face as Prime Minister is rather different,” she said.

“In this new context, it will be even more important to make the case for our policies and our values, and to win the battle of ideas both in Parliament as well as in the country.”

Watch May’s relaunch speech

PM @theresa_may calls onpolitical opponents to contribute, not just criticise, in her firstbig speech since the election pic.twitter.com/e8Y87C34VZ

@theresa_maypic.twitter.com/e8Y87C34VZJuly 11,2017

May’s personal ratings have plummeted in the opinion polls since losing her majority, while senior Conservatives including David Davis, Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson have all recently been tipped to replace her.

Recently, friends of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom told Business Insider that a number of Tory MPs have urged to consider a leadership challenge.

The prime minister was keen to reach out to MPs across the House in today’s speech, urging Labour and other opposition parties to “come forward with your own views and ideas about how we can tackle these challenges as a country.”

She added: “We may not agree on everything, but through debate and discussion – the hallmarks of our Parliamentary democracy – ideas can be clarified and improved and a better way forward found.”

The PM took just two questions from the media following her relaunch speech, leaving some broadcasters and journalists fuming.

Read excerpts from May’s speech.

A year ago, I stood outside Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister, and I set out the defining characteristics of the Government I was determined to lead.

A clear understanding that the EU referendum result was not just a vote to leave the European Union, but a deeper and more profound call for change across our country.

A belief that at the heart of that change must lie a commitment to greater fairness in our country as we tackle the injustice and vested interests that threaten to hold us back, and make Britain a country that works for everyone, not just a privileged few.

And a determination to address difficult issues and take big decisions in the long-term interests of Britain, so that we emerge from this period of great national change stronger and better able to seize the opportunities ahead as we fulfil the promise of Brexit together.

And though the result of last month’s general election was not what I wanted, those defining beliefs remain, my commitment to change in Britain is undimmed; my belief in the potential of the British people and what we can achieve together as a nation remains steadfast; and the determination I have to get to grips with the challenges posed by a changing world never more sure.

I am convinced that the path that I set out in that first speech outside Number 10 and upon which we have set ourselves as a government remains the right one. It will lead to the stronger, fairer Britain that we need. It will deliver the change people want. It will ensure we make the most of this opportunity to ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be and to answer that question with confidence, optimism and hope.

That is why I am so grateful to Matthew for the report he is publishing.

Because the issues it confronts go right to the heart of this Government’s agenda and right to the heart of our values as a people.

When I commissioned this report I led a majority government in the House of Commons. The reality I now face as Prime Minister is rather different.

In this new context, it will be even more important to make the case for our policies and our values, and to win the battle of ideas both in Parliament as well as in the country.

So I say to the other parties in the House of Commons… come forward with your own views and ideas about how we can tackle these challenges as a country.

We may not agree on everything, but through debate and discussion – the hallmarks of our Parliamentary democracy – ideas can be clarified and improved and a better way forward found.

It is in that spirit that we will take this agenda forward in the months ahead. And this new context presents us as a government with a wider choice.

At this critical time in our history, we can either be timid or we can be bold.

We can play it safe or we can strike out with renewed courage and vigour, making the case for our ideas and values and challenging our opponents to contribute, not just criticise.

I think this country needs a government that is prepared to take the bold action necessary to secure a better future for Britain and we are determined to be that government.

In everything we do, we will act with an unshakeable sense of purpose to build the better, fairer Britain which we all want to see.

This is a developing story…