Theresa May says public back her pledge to stay on as PM

Theresa May insists the public back her pledge to continue as Prime Minister ‘for the long term’ – as Tory critics warned she should not lead the party into the next election.

The Prime Minister sparked a backlash among some of her MPs yesterday after saying she plans to stay and fight the next election, planned for 2022.

Speaking at a Press conference in Tokyo yesterday, Mrs May dismissed the idea she could step down early, saying voters want her to ‘get on with the job’.

‘I said I wasn’t a quitter. There is a long-term job to done, there is an important job to be done in the United Kingdom. We stand at a really critical time,’ she said.

‘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.’

Colours of the flag: Theresa May in Japan

Mrs May’s defiant stance was backed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said the PM had the ‘undivided’ support of ministers. Mr Johnson, who is on an official visit to Nigeria, said Mrs May was ‘ideally placed’ to deliver Brexit and he was ‘here to support her’.

Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, said there was a ‘firm, fixed view’ within the party that there should not be a leadership contest – at least for now.

But other senior figures said it was not realistic to expect Mrs May to fight another election after losing the party’s Commons majority in June.

Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps ridiculed Mrs May’s suggestion that she could continue indefinitely. He said it was ‘too early’ for Mrs May to talk about going ‘on and on’ like Margaret Thatcher.

He said that Mrs May had 18 months to earn the right to stay on, adding: ‘We ran a very poor election. You can’t go pretending it was anything other than a disastrous result, of course it was. You can’t jump straight from that to “I’ll go on for ever”. You need an in-between stage.’

Fashionable Theresa wows the Japanese 

Cossack hat: Mrs Thatcher in Russia

Cossack hat: Mrs Thatcher in Russia

Theresa May has repeatedly won praise at home for her eye-catching fashion choices.

And now she is getting recognition from across the globe.

Last night, in an echo of Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 style triumph in the Soviet Union, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe praised Mrs May’s fashion sense.

‘You can all tell that everyone here is very much fascinated by your excellent sense of fashion, Prime Minister,’ he said, making reference to the red and white outfit – the colours of the Japanese flag – she wore on arrival.

But after her fashion victory, Mrs May risked offending her hosts by admitting she has never sung karaoke in her life.

Asked what her favourite tune to sing along to is, the Prime Minister told reporters: ‘Look, I’ve got a confession to make, which might be a shock to you all, but I’m not a great karaoke fan. Have I ever done karaoke? Ah, no.’

As a sign of the close friendship between the two countries, Mr Abe announced plans to give 3,000 cherry blossom trees to be planted in the UK. 

Former education secretary Nicky Morgan, who was sacked by Mrs May, said: ‘I think it’s going to be difficult for Theresa May to lead us into the next general election.’ Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine, who has been critical of Mrs May’s approach to Brexit, said she had no long-term future. The Tory peer, who was also sacked by Mrs May as a government adviser, said: ‘I don’t think it’s realistic that she will lead the Conservative Party into the next election … I don’t think there will be an appetite within the party to re-run the last election.’

The London Evening Standard, edited by former Chancellor George Osborne, published a blistering editorial, claiming Mrs May’s premiership ‘staggers on oblivious’ like ‘the Living Dead in a second-rate horror film’. But Mrs May insisted she had a duty to continue in post.

She said her decision to fight on was ‘partly about Brexit’, but also about tackling other long-term challenges, such as mental health.‘These are real issues that we need to be dealing with and I’m there to do it.’