Theresa May insists the public back her pledge to continue as Prime Minister ‘for the long term’ – as Tory critics warned she should not lead the party into the next election.
The Prime Minister sparked a backlash among some of her MPs yesterday after saying she plans to stay and fight the next election, planned for 2022.
Speaking at a Press conference in Tokyo yesterday, Mrs May dismissed the idea she could step down early, saying voters want her to ‘get on with the job’.
‘I said I wasn’t a quitter. There is a long-term job to done, there is an important job to be done in the United Kingdom. We stand at a really critical time,’ she said.
‘For most members of the public, they would say they want the Government to get on with the job and that’s exactly what I and the Government are doing.’
Colours of the flag: Theresa May in Japan
Mrs May’s defiant stance was backed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said the PM had the ‘undivided’ support of ministers. Mr Johnson, who is on an official visit to Nigeria, said Mrs May was ‘ideally placed’ to deliver Brexit and he was ‘here to support her’.
Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, said there was a ‘firm, fixed view’ within the party that there should not be a leadership contest – at least for now.
But other senior figures said it was not realistic to expect Mrs May to fight another election after losing the party’s Commons majority in June.
Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps ridiculed Mrs May’s suggestion that she could continue indefinitely. He said it was ‘too early’ for Mrs May to talk about going ‘on and on’ like Margaret Thatcher.
He said that Mrs May had 18 months to earn the right to stay on, adding: ‘We ran a very poor election. You can’t go pretending it was anything other than a disastrous result, of course it was. You can’t jump straight from that to “I’ll go on for ever”. You need an in-between stage.’