PM May stays in charge as challenge to premiership collapses
May has faced questions on whether Boris Johnson is “unsackable” due to her weakened position.world Updated: Oct 08, 2017 23:49 IST
A nagging cough and a failing voice added to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s political woes this week, but the weekend saw her staying on in 10, Downing Street, as a new challenge to her leadership collapsed and her ambitious foreign secretary Boris Johnson fell in line.
May and leading lights in the Conservative Party took to the print media on Sunday to warn of unrest paving the way for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street. May appeared to have survived another threat to her leadership after a bid to oust her by former party chairman Grant Shapps collapsed when it did not find much support among party MPs.
Johnson, whose every statement is seen as a challenge and bid for leadership, had earlier used his column in The Sunday Telegraph to question whether the party would allow itself to be forced into “an election that no one wants”, adding: “What do you think you are doing, you nutters?”
May, whose address to the Tory conference this week was wracked by cough, an imposter and letters falling off a bold slogan on stage, told The Sunday Times that she is “pretty resilient”, and added that it was not her style to “hide from a challenge”.
Amid growing demands that she sack Johnson to reassert her authority and introduce young party leaders to senior positions, May has faced questions on whether Johnson is “unsackable” due to her weakened position.
Asked what she might do with him, May said “It has never been my style to hide from a challenge and I’m not going to start now. I’m the PM, and part of my job is to make sure I always have the best people in my cabinet, to make the most of the wealth of talent available to me in the party.”
She denied she cried after the “cringe-worthy” conference speech and hit out at some of the media portrayals of her: “One minute journalists are accusing me of being an ice maiden or a robot, then they claim I’m a weeping woman in dire need of a good night’s sleep…The truth is, my feelings can be hurt, like everyone else, but I am pretty resilient.”
Senior Tory leader and former prime minister John Major waded in, accusing “self absorbed” critics of undermining May. Writing in The Mail on Sunday, he warned that party MPs should “reflect very carefully” on what was at stake.
“The country has had enough of the self-absorbed and, frankly, disloyal behaviour we have witnessed over recent weeks”, he wrote, calling for the party to unite and for the government to “win back hearts and minds” or risk the prospect of “neo-Marxist” Corbyn taking the keys to Number 10.