Lauding women who won the vote, Britain's May says teamwork is her style

by Reuters
Monday, 5 February 2018 23:45 GMT

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

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May, Britain's second female prime minister, will use the anniversary to press for an end to online abuse

LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday she wants to work with a team, which may make her different from the men who preceded her, as she marked the centenary of women winning the vote in Britain.

May, Britain's second female prime minister, will also use the anniversary to press for an end to online abuse that is "coarsening" political debate.

In a speech in the northern English city of Manchester, the birthplace and home of the British suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, May will announce government measures intended to make sure social media firms are stamping out offensive content.

But before the speech, May turned to how she finds her role as prime minister and the growing criticism from both inside and outside her Conservatives that she is not up to the job.

"My approach is much I would say about trying to work with the team ... I think it's about ensuring you have different opinions being heard around the table but bringing those opinions together in a way that achieves an outcome that is good," she told BBC radio.

Asked what she would say to her critics, some of whom have called for her to step down, she said: "I put a much greater focus on not what you say but on what you do, and I guess that is another difference perhaps between women sometimes and men."

May enjoyed a honeymoon in the opinion polls when she took power after Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016. But since losing her Conservatives' majority in parliament in an ill-judged election in June, her leadership has been questioned.

Critics say her cautious approach has increasingly left her hostage to the deep divisions among her ministers, especially over Brexit, with some concerned the EU has now gained the upper hand in talks. On Monday, the EU said it was time for Britain to make a choice on their future ties.

But May will also use the centenary of the women's vote to return to a favoured refrain and renew her call for a fight against online abuse, which she says often targets women lawmakers more than men.

Her measures will sit alongside a commitment from the minister for women and equalities, Amber Rudd, to offer 2.5 million pounds ($3.5 million) for schemes to increase women's participation in political and public life.

"As we remember the heroic campaigners of the past, who fought to include the voices of all citizens in our public debate, we should consider what values and principles guide our conduct of that debate today," she will say in Manchester.

($1 = 0.7136 pounds)

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, editing by William Maclean, Larry King)

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