MAY ‘IR­RI­TATED’ BY LEAD­ER­SHIP DE­BATE

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - SAM LIS­TER Press As­so­ci­a­tion news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

THERESA May has ad­mit­ted she gets “ir­ri­tated” by the de­bate over her lead­er­ship and lashed out at pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor Boris John­son. The Prime Min­is­ter in­sisted she was fo­cused on the coun­try’s fu­ture rather than her own, in a BBC in­ter­view to mark the six­month count­down to Brexit.

Mrs May crit­i­cised Mr John­son for us­ing “com­pletely inap­pro­pri­ate” language when he de­scribed her Brexit strat­egy as putting the UK in a “sui­cide vest”.

Around 50 Brex­i­teers met to war-game ways to oust the Prime Min­is­ter on Tues­day evening and Mr John­son is widely ex­pected to vie to re­place Mrs May.

Asked if she would re­as­sure the Con­ser­va­tive Party she was not deter­mined to go on and on, the PM told BBC Panorama’s In­side No 10: Deal or No Deal?: “I get a lit­tle bit ir­ri­tated but this de­bate is not about my fu­ture, this de­bate is about the fu­ture of the peo­ple of the UK and the fu­ture of the United King­dom.

“That’s what I’m fo­cused on and that’s what we should all be fo­cused on.

“It’s en­sur­ing that we get that good deal from the Euro­pean Union which is good for peo­ple in the UK, wher­ever they live in the UK, that’s what’s im­por­tant for us ... It’s the fu­ture of peo­ple in the UK that mat­ters.”

Mr John­son faced a Tory back­lash af­ter com­par­ing Mrs May’s Brexit plan to a “sui­cide vest” and his for­mer com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, Guto Harri, said on Satur­day that his ex-boss was “dig­ging his po­lit­i­cal grave”.

Mrs May said the for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary’s com­ments were “not right”.

“I have to say that that choice of language is com­pletely inap­pro­pri­ate,” she said.

“I was home sec­re­tary for six years, and as Prime Min­is­ter for two years now I think us­ing language like that was not right and it’s not language I would have used.”

The PM was once de­scribed as a “bloody dif­fi­cult woman” by for­mer Cabi­net min­is­ter Ken Clarke, and later claimed the de­scrip­tion as a badge of hon­our.

She told the pro­gramme that that per­son is “still there”, but “there’s a dif­fer­ence between those who think you can only be bloody dif­fi­cult in pub­lic, and those who think ac­tu­ally you bide your time, and you’re bloody dif­fi­cult when the time is right – and when it re­ally mat­ters.”

JEFF OVERS/BBC

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May dur­ing the BBC Panorama in­ter­view

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