- Theresa May tells journalists “I’m here for the long term”.
- Embattled PM denies reports she plans to stand down after Brexit.
- Boris Johnson insists May has his “undivided backing”.
- Conservative grandee Michael Heseltine says May will be gone within two years.
LONDON — Theresa May insists that she will fight the next general election, despite costing her party their majority at the polls earlier this year.
The prime minister, whose failed attempt to win a landslide in this year’s general election in June threw her future into doubt, said that she intends to go on and on.
“Yes, I’m here for the long term,” she told the BBC during a visit to Japan.
“What me and my government are about is not just delivering on Brexit but delivering a brighter future for the UK.”
She described reports that she plans to stand down after Brexit negotiations have concluded as having “no basis whatever”.
May’s comments were backed by the foreign secretary and potential leadership contender Boris Johnson, who insisted that May had his “undivided backing” to remain as PM.
However, Labour described May as leading a “zombie government” while former Conservative deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine dismissed May’s comments, saying “I don’t think she has a long term.”
“The Tory party will have to decide whether that reflects the best interests of the party and whether they want a re-run of the contest against Jeremy Corbyn… My own guess is that they won’t,” Heseltine 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.”
Despite speculation that this year’s general election result would force her to stand down, May’s position has been consolidated by fears among Conservative MPs that any change in leadership would force another election, which the party would lose.
However, while there has so far been little appetite for an immediate change among Tory MPs, most had assumed that she would stand down after Brexit and before any further general election.
May’s comments today could well change those calculations.
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