London: Theresa May has dismissed reports that she plans to quit as British Prime Minister and said that she will lead the Conservative party into the next general election.
Addressing the media during her ongoing visit to Japan, May sought to dismiss murmurs in the UK media that she plans to step down as Conservative party leader at the end of the Brexit process in 2019.
“I am not a quitter. I am in this for the long term,” she said, when asked if she expects to fight the general election scheduled for 2022.
“There’s a real job to be done in the UK. It is about getting the Brexit deal right, it is about building that deep and special partnership with the European Union but it is also about building global Britain, trading around the world,”she said.
The speculation around May’s departure from 10 Downing Street was triggered by media reports last week that claimed that the British PM planned to step down by August 30, 2019.
Her comments have been received with a mixed response by her party, with back-benchers questioning this “long-term” strategy.
May has been widely seen as being on borrowed time as party leader since her gamble to call an early general election in June this year backfired, losing the Tories their overall majority in Parliament.
In the immediate aftermath, several MPs called on her to re-consider her position and former Chancellor George Osborne, who has become a newspaper editor after being sacked by May, even said that she was a “dead woman walking”.
But May’s message during her Japanese visit was defiant: “What I am clear that I want to do is, yes, get on with the job of Brexit, but it’s not just about Brexit. What I want to do is a lot more about the long term, which is about changes domestically, on issues like social justice”.
UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson, among the candidates in line to step in as the prime minister, continued to back May.
“She is 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 am here to support her,”he told the BBC during his ongoing official visit to Nigeria.
But former Tory chairman Grant Shapps said it was “too early” for May to talk about going “on and on” like Margaret Thatcher.
“I think it’s going to be difficult for Theresa May to lead us into the next general election,”said Nicky Morgan, a Tory MP who has been very vocal in her opposition to Theresa May.