World

May has backing of senior ministers despite rebellion

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May should quit to save the Conservative Party from losing the next election and 30 of her lawmakers back a plot to topple her, a former chairman of her party said yesterday.

Just as Britain enters a crucial stage in Brexit talks with the European Union, Mrs May is now facing an open rebellion by some of her own lawmakers who said her authority was shattered after her disastrous speech to the party conference on Wednesday.

Senior ministers rallied around Mrs May, saying she should continue as prime minister as Britain is at such a critical juncture. There is no obvious successor in the party who could unite it over Brexit.

But former party chairman Grant Shapps told BBC Radio: "I think she should call a leadership election."

After Mrs May's bungled election, her failure to unite the Cabinet and a poor party conference, "the writing is on the wall", he said.

Though no Conservative ministers have publicly indicated any support for the plot, such a blunt demand for Mrs May to quit shows the extent of her weakness as she attempts to navigate the intricate negotiations of leaving the EU.

Mr Shapps, who chaired the party between 2012 and 2015, said the plot existed before this week's party conference and includes both supporters and opponents of Brexit.

He said the group does not have a unified view on who should replace Mrs May.

To trigger a formal leadership challenge, 48 Conservative lawmakers need to write to the chairman of the party's so-called 1922 committee. - REUTERS

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