Since taking office in July, British PM Theresa May has generally kept her head down, rarely veering from political talking points when giving public remarks. But she took a hiatus from that strategy this week by conducting media interviews and joking about taking selfies, buying more of her trademark kitten heels, and whether her scone recipe calls for margarine or butter. (Surprise!—She has used both, and some viewers said those interview topics were sexist.)
The charm offensive is part of the traditional media circuit that takes place during the Conservative party conference this week, but there was a bit more riding on May’s ability to endear herself this year.
After months of tiptoeing around specific details of her Brexit plan, she took a big plunge over the weekend when she said she would formally start Britain’s exit from the European Union by the end of March 2017. Her remarks were controversial, with some critics fearing she’d locked the U.K. into a deadline the EU could use to its advantage in upcoming negotiations. Her timeline also hints at a “Hard Brexit,” which would could concede Britain’s access to the bloc’s single market, and the pound plummeted to a 31-year-low on that news.
Her announcement of the March 2017 date is considered an attempt to appease her largely Eurosceptic Conservative party ahead of its annual meeting, and her uncharacteristic candor in TV interviews this week has come off as an attempt to win over everyone else.
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