British Prime Minister Theresa May has reiterated her intention to contest the next election in 2022, brushing off stern warnings by her fellow members of parliament that her leadership is in doubt.
Conservative Party MPs publicly voiced their discontent with May on Thursday morning after the Prime Minister overnight dismissed a report saying she would step down in 2019 after Brexit. She also confirmed the 2022 election was in her sights.
May doubled down on her stance Thursday when asked by a reporter to respond to the MPs’ comments.
“I said I wasn’t a quitter, and there’s a long-term job to do. There’s an important job to be done in the United Kingdom. We stand at a really critical time in the UK,” she said.
“Yes that’s partly about Brexit and getting Brexit right, but if you think back to what I said when I became Prime Minister, when I stood in Downing street, there are many other issues that we need to address, long-term challenges in our country, ensuring that people don’t feel left behind.”
She added: “I think 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.”
May had, a day earlier, said “I’m not a quitter” when asked by ITV if she would contest the 2022 election. She also confirmed her plans to run for the next election with Sky News.
MP: ‘We ran a very poor election’
May’s leadership has been in doubt since an embarrassing election result in June, in which her political gamble to call an early vote backfired and stripped her party of its commanding majority in Parliament.
May had called the election to widen her commanding margin ahead of tough Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
Instead she was forced to form an alliance with the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland.
Grant Shapps, a former Conservative Party chairman, was among MPs to air the party’s disquiet over May’s leadership, even comparing her to Margaret Thatcher.
“I think it is too early to be talking about going on and on, as Margaret Thatcher once said. Let’s get some progress for the British people first, I think that’s the priority,” he told BBC Radio 4′s Today program.
“The truth is we ran a very poor election and you can’t just brush that under the table and pretend it didn’t happen – not least because we went from having a workable majority to no majority at all … You can’t go pretending it wasn’t anything other than a disastrous result.”
While Shapps said there were frustrations in the party with May, he conceded that there was little appetite for another leadership change among Conservatives.
Boris Johnson backs May
But some lawmakers have come out to defend the Prime Minister.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told CNN that he unequivocally backed May and that he believed she could win an outright majority in the next election.
“I’ve made it clear since June …. that I’m giving my undivided backing to Theresa May,” Johnson told CNN while on a visit to Nigeria.
“We need to get Brexit done. She’s ideally placed to deliver a great outcome for our country, get a great negotiation done and then deliver what we all want to see, which is this exciting agenda of global Britain. And I think she gets it, she really wants to deliver it, and I’m here to support her.”
Johnson added that he thought Britain was “going to get a great deal” in Brexit negotiations.
Britain is in a third round of Brexit talks with the EU, but progress has been slow for May’s government.
Talks devolved this week into a brawl over how much Britain should pay to leave the European Union, an issue that must be settled before the parties discuss their future relationship.
CNN’s Nic Robertson contributed to this report from Nigeria.