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UK's Cameron seeks to quell party feud over welfare, EU

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM
British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives for an EU summit in Brussels on Friday.
Iain Duncan Smith leaves BBC Broadcasting House after giving his first interview since resigning from his role in government, in London.


British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to impose discipline on his warring Conservative Party yesterday, after a Cabinet resignation, ostensibly about unpopular welfare reforms, blew the top off simmering divisions over the European Union.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who has pushed through big changes to the country's welfare system over the past six years, dramatically quit late Friday, accusing the government of targeting the poor for cuts while protecting pensions for the better-off.

"I am passionate about trying to improve the quality of life for those in difficult circumstances," Duncan Smith said Sunday. "Now, I want to do that and I want my party to do that. But I felt that I'm losing my ability to influence that."

The resignation of Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader whose nickname when at the helm between 2001 and 2003 was 'The Quiet Man', has set off a firestorm in his party for reasons that have little to do with welfare reform.

Duncan Smith is among a group of senior Conservatives who want Britain to leave the European Union, and his resignation has heaped pressure on Cameron and Treasury Chief George Osborne, both of whom want the UK to stay in the EU. The country will decide in a June 23 referendum whether to remain in the 28-nation bloc.