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Brexit cannot define us, says PM May’s deputy as ratings dip

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s ruling Conservative Party cannot let itself be defined solely by Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May’s de facto deputy said on Sunday, as polling showed failure to leave the European Union on schedule has badly damaged its support.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain, April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

May’s authority has been shattered by her three-time failure to get an exit deal approved by parliament and a pledge to quit once Brexit is delivered, driving speculation about her successor and a possible national election.

The once-prized stability of British politics has disappeared, threatening to break apart both the Conservatives and their main opponents Labour, and leaving the world’s fifth-largest economy facing an uncertain future.

Without any consensus in parliament, reflective of a deeply divided population, all outcomes remain possible in the coming weeks and months: leaving the EU with a deal, a disorderly exit without a deal, or another vote on whether to leave at all.

“We mustn’t define ourselves as the Brexit party,” said David Lidington, cabinet office minister and effectively May’s second in command.

“We’ve got to deliver the outcome of the referendum … but, the Conservative Party has got to remain a broad church, a national party, and it’s got to be talking about things that matter to people in their everyday lives: housing, health service, living standards.”

May, 62, took power in the aftermath of Britain’s surprise 2016 vote to leave the EU and has seen her government paralysed by divisions over Brexit and unable to enact an ambitious reform agenda to tackle social injustice.

An Opinium poll published in the Observer newspaper showed the Conservatives at 29 percent,

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