Saturday 24 February 2018

Tories in revolt as May says she intends to fight next UK election

Theresa May toasts with her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at a dinner at Akasaka Palace, Tokyo, yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Theresa May toasts with her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at a dinner at Akasaka Palace, Tokyo, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Dean Gray in London

Conservative MPs have expressed severe reservations about Theresa May's plan to fight the next general election as Tory leader as they suggested the prime minister remains on probation.

Nicky Morgan, the former education secretary, said it would be "difficult" for Mrs May to lead the party into another poll after the disastrous set of results achieved on June 8.

Meanwhile, Grant Shapps, the former Tory party chairman, said Mrs May could not "jump straight" from throwing away the Tories' majority to announcing an intention to remain as leader well into the next decade as he signalled she would have to prove herself.

Michael Heseltine criticised Mrs May's announcement as he said she had no "long-term" future as Tory leader.

But Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who is viewed as a potential candidate in any Tory leadership contest, said the prime minister had his "undivided backing".

Mrs May's statement that she is "not a quitter", made during a trade trip to Japan, has provoked a growing backlash among some party colleagues.

Many Tory MPs had expected the prime minister to step aside after the conclusion of Brexit in March 2019. But she insisted on her trip to Japan that she is "in this for the long term".

Mr Shapps told BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme: "The truth is we ran a very poor election. You can't go pretending it wasn't anything other than a disastrous result, of course it was, and you can't jump straight from that to 'I'll go on forever'.

"You have got to have an in between stage and that means action. The in between stage is delivering on some of the stuff we need to deliver."

Ms Morgan told BBC's 'Hardtalk': "I think it's going to be difficult for Theresa May to lead us into the next general election."

Mr Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister, said the party will have to decide whether Mrs May staying on is in its "best interests" and to decide whether it wants a "re-run of the battle with Jeremy Corbyn that we saw a few months ago".

"My own guess is they won't, but of course I am just one voice out of many," he told the BBC.

"The long term is the difficult one for Theresa May because I don't think she has got a long term. I think we face a general election in a couple of years."

But speaking on an official visit to Nigeria, Mr Johnson said: "We need to get Brexit done. She's ideally placed to deliver a great outcome for our country and then deliver what we all want to see, which is this exciting agenda of global Britain.

"I think she gets it. She really wants to deliver it. I'm here to support her."

Irish Independent

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