Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

Split ruling party disagree over PM’s departure

Theresa May remains in post as MPs squabble about a leadership challenge

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces continued pressure from sections of her party to quit her job. Getty
British Prime Minister Theresa May faces continued pressure from sections of her party to quit her job. Getty

A new attempt to remove British Prime Minister Theresa May appears to have been blocked, despite deep-seated anger within her party’s ranks over her Brexit strategy.

Senior members of her ruling Conservative party are seeking to change the rules to allow a fresh leadership challenge to Mrs May after a failed bid in December.

Under current party rules, no fresh challenge is allowed within 12 months but some MPs are putting pressure on Mrs May to be removed – or for her to quit voluntarily – before then.

Officials from the party’s committee of MPs met on Tuesday to discuss the plans but the meeting was said to have been inconclusive.

Joint executive secretary Nigel Evans had publicly called for Mrs May to go as soon as possible, but others at the meeting reportedly questioned what a fresh leadership contest would achieve.

Mrs May promised last month that she would go once Brexit was secured but an extension agreed with the EU, until the end of October, has delayed her departure.

The party fears that her unpopularity will contribute to a probable heavy defeat next month in elections to the European parliament. The EU insisted that the UK would have to hold European elections as a condition for delaying Brexit from the original March 29 date.

Former business minister Richard Harrington, who quit over Mrs May’s Brexit policies, opposed any leadership election.

“I really believe at the moment … where parliament has to decide what it wants to do in weeks, a leadership election would be disastrous, not just for the Conservative party, but for the whole country,” he told the BBC.

Senior Conservatives are already jockeying for position to take over with polls showing Boris Johnson is the frontrunner. The former Foreign Secretary, who campaigned for Brexit, has been vocal in his criticism of Mrs May.

Updated: April 24, 2019 01:41 PM

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