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UK's Theresa May struggles to halt government infighting

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LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to discipline her fractious Cabinet Tuesday after last month's election setback undermined her leadership.

Recent days have seen a string of disparaging media stories about various members of the government, as ministers hoping to replace May jostle for position. They have included alleged leaks of Cabinet discussions, which are supposed to remain private.

"There is a need to show strength and unity as a country, and that starts around the Cabinet table," May said.

May called a snap election in the hope of increasing her majority in Parliament and strengthening her hand in exit talks with the European Union. Instead, voters wiped out the Conservative majority and left May weakened at a time when her party — and the country — is divided on the best way to negotiate Britain's exit from the EU.

May has warned Conservative lawmakers that toppling her could lead to an election that would end in a victory for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd defended May, saying she had not lost her authority and saying lawmakers would settle down after Parliament's summer break.

"I'm hopeful that after a holiday ... we can all calm down and get on with the job in hand," she told broadcaster ITV.

But former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, a prominent pro-EU Conservative, said the situation would worsen because the government remains deeply divided over Brexit.

"It is going to get worse," Heseltine told Sky News. "There is an irreconcilable division within the Cabinet, within the party and within the country."

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