Allies back May after leader admits plot to oust her

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May
Updated 07 October 2017
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Allies back May after leader admits plot to oust her

LONDON: Senior British Conservatives rallied to the support of embattled Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, after a lawmaker said he had a list of 30 colleagues who want her to resign.
Grant Shapps, a former party chairman, said “a growing number of people feel it’s time to make a change” after a poor election result and a disastrous conference speech by May earlier this week.
The number of rebels falls short of the 48 lawmakers needed to trigger a formal leadership challenge under party rules, but the plot further rattles May’s shaky grip on power.
May became prime minister through a Conservative leadership contest when David Cameron resigned in the wake of Britain’s June 2016 vote to leave the EU. Since then she has struggled to unite a government that is divided over how the country should leave the EU and what relationship it wants with the bloc after Brexit.
May was further weakened when she called a snap election for June that saw the Conservatives reduced to a minority government. A speech on Wednesday designed to reinvigorate the party descended into disaster as May was interrupted by a prankster and almost silenced by a sore throat, before letters began dropping off the slogan behind her.
In recent weeks Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has gone public with his own plans for Brexit, a move widely seen as a challenge to May.
Shapps told Sky News that May is “a very decent woman” but without a new leader “we may be in a holding pattern which may be an ever-descending one.”
But senior Cabinet colleagues declared support for May, saying she must stay in office to steer the country through Brexit, due in 2019.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a prominent Brexit campaigner, said Friday that May had “shown tremendous grace and grit in the course of this week.”
“I think Theresa’s doing a great job,” he told Sky News.
Other Conservatives took to Twitter to back their leader. Lawmaker Nadhim Zahawi tweeted that he had been “inundated with message(s) of support” for May and Shapps had “misjudged the mood of the party.”
Legislator James Cleverley posted on Twitter that Shapps “is doing himself, the party, and (most importantly) the country no favors at all. Just stop.”


India military opens Kerala base to commercial flights

Updated 8 min 36 sec ago
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India military opens Kerala base to commercial flights

  • The first flight landed at the Indian naval air station in the city of Kochi
  • Kerala has been battered by torrential downpours since August 8

ALAPPUZHA, India: The Indian military opened an air base to commercial flights Monday in the flood-savaged southern state of Kerala to help speed in relief and fly out residents.
The first flight landed at the Indian naval air station in the city of Kochi, where the commercial airport has been closed for nearly a week. The Air India flight came from the city of Bangalore in the nearby state of Karnataka, Suresh Prabhu, the minister of civil aviation, said on Twitter.
Other air bases in the region should open to commercial traffic soon, he said.
Kerala has been battered by torrential downpours since Aug. 8. Floods and landslides have killed at least 250 people in Kerala since then, with about 800,000 people taking shelter in some 4,000 relief camps.
Thousands of people are taking shelter in small camps in this coastal town. Many are set up in schools, but at least one is on the grounds of a mosque, where Christians, Hindus and Muslims have all found food and a place to sleep.
The town itself, which is on slightly higher ground, has escaped the worst of the flooding, but the situation is far grimmer just a few kilometers (a couple miles away)
“The water came almost up to my head,” said Ullas, a 48-year-old man who uses only one name, and who fled his village for the safety of the town.
He has no idea when he’ll be able to come back. “We don’t know,” he said, as he helped distribute food in one relief center. “It could take a month.”
With rains decreasing, the water has started receding in parts of Kerala but thousands of people remain cut off and in need of help.
Officials have called it the worst flooding in Kerala in a century, with rainfall in some areas well over double that of a typical monsoon season.
Officials have put initial storm damage estimates at nearly $3 billion.