World

May promises to listen more to businesses

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May promised yesterday to listen more closely to businesses' concerns about Britain leaving the European Union (EU) as she set out a Brexit-focused government programme, pared-back to reflect her weakened authority.

Chastened by an election that left her Conservative Party short of a majority in Parliament and reopened debate on the nature of Britain's EU exit, Mrs May also dropped firm pledges on social care, education and corporate governance.

The two-year programme for government, known as the Queen's Speech, was prepared by ministers and read out by Queen Elizabeth in Parliament at its formal opening ceremony.

At a time of unprecedented political uncertainty, Mrs May is under increasing pressure to secure a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to prop up her government after nearly two weeks of talks.

The Queen told lawmakers from both the upper and lower houses of Parliament that the government is committed to building "the widest possible consensus" on Brexit, working with Parliament, devolved administrations, businesses and others.

BEST POSSIBLE DEAL

"My government's priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union," the Queen said.

"The election result was not the one I hoped for, but this government will respond with humility and resolve to the message the electorate sent," Mrs May said in remarks introducing the policy plan.

"First, we need to get Brexit right. That means getting a deal that delivers the result of last year's referendum and does so in a way that commands maximum public support."

The legislative programme spelt out a Brexit-dominated set of policies that indicated Mrs May was keen to secure broad support for leaving the EU - a change in tone from the strident approach she set out before the June 8 election.- REUTERS

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