8, October 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May has signaled she might demote Boris Johnson amid pressure to sack the foreign secretary, a report says.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, May hinted at her plans for Johnson, who is accused by some of her allies of undercutting her by taking a different position on Brexit.
“It has never been my style to hide from a challenge and I’m not going to start now,” the paper quoted May as saying.
“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.”
May delivered a speech in Florence last month, proposing a two-year transitional period to be started after the UK leaves the European Union in 2019.
A few days earlier, Johnson said in a newspaper article that the two-year post-Brexit transition deal should be “done as fast as possible,” and that the period should last “not a second more” than two years for the UK.
His interventions were seen by many lawmakers as undermining May and causing unnecessary unrest prior to the party’s conference last week that culminated in a disastrous speech by May, spoiled by a coughing fit, a comedian handing her a bogus employment termination notice, and by letters falling off the slogans on the set behind her.
Referring to her conference speech, May told the newspaper, “I am a very determined person. I am not someone who gives up.”
Meanwhile, former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said Friday that 30 Conservative members of parliament supported a plot to topple the prime minister.
Shapps, who chaired the party between 2012 and 2015, said the premier’s leadership should now be challenged.
“I think she should call a leadership election,” Shapps told BBC Radio.
The news, however, caused senior figures, including Johnson himself, to rally around May and call for unity.
“We have just had an election and people are fed up with this malarkey,” Johnson said in a message to Conservative lawmakers.
May’s authority was already diminished by her decision to call a snap election in June that lost her party its majority in parliament just days before the opening of Brexit talks with the European Union.
To trigger a formal leadership challenge, 48 Conservative lawmakers need to write to the chairman of the party’s so-called 1922 Committee.