Britain – EU – Politics

British PM Seeks to Calm Party Tensions over Cuts, EU

British PM Seeks to Calm Party Tensions over Cuts, EU
Mon Mar 21, 2016 19:29:49

British Prime Minister David Cameron will seek to calm tensions in his party Monday after a senior minister’s resignation sparked an extraordinary bout of in-fighting, exposing deep splits ahead of the EU referendum.

Cameron was expected to use a statement to parliament about last week's European Union summit to try to diffuse the row sparked by Friday’s resignation of welfare minister Iain Duncan Smith over plans to cut state payments for disabled people.

Critics of Duncan Smith, a former leader of the Conservative Party, accused him of stepping down to further his campaign for Britain to leave the EU in the referendum on June 23.

That position has put him at odds with the prime minister but has support from several ministers and many Conservative lawmakers.

Duncan Smith rejected any link to the EU debate, and in a highly damaging attack, accused the prime minister and finance minister George Osborne of trying to balance their books on the backs of the poorest people in Britain.

Ministers and lawmakers took to television to denounce each other over the weekend, sparking what commentators said was the party’s worst crisis since the 1990s following the fall of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Cameron will use his parliament appearance at 1530 GMT to defend his record, according to media reports, and will attempt to restore some order.

Michael Howard, who succeeded Duncan Smith as Conservative leader in 2003, called on the party to “calm down.”

He warned that less than a year after winning the general election, the party had a responsibility to stay united for the good of the country, regardless of its divisions over Britain’s place in the EU.

“We all therefore have to behave in a very responsible way,” he told BBC radio; AFP reported.

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