'I'm not a quitter' says May, vowing to fight next election

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Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps

EMPICS Entertainment Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps

Speaking on BBC Radio 5Live's Pienaar's Politics, Oliver - who quit Downing Street after being on the losing side of the referendum vote - said: "I was genuinely surprised to hear it and I was also genuinely surprised that a lot of the commentary that went around it was people saying 'well, what do you expect?"

She insisted that she was "in this for the long term" and dismissed renewed reports that she planned to stand down after Brexit was complete in 2019.

Jeremy Corbyn's party hit 43 per cent in the Survation survey, which was carried out in the week Theresa May pledged to fight the general election, due in 2022.

"I think it's going to be hard for Theresa May to lead us into the next general election", said Nicky Morgan, a Tory MP who has been very vocal in her opposition to Theresa May.

Also, despite several leading Conservatives thought to be eyeing her job, none appears willing to step in now when Britain is engaged in hard talks to leave the European Union, which officials say are making little or no progress.

Her apparent refusal to contemplate retirement did the party no damage at the ballot box. (Tory MPs were so calm about what May said precisely because they don't think it is actually going to happen).

In the minds of critics (including many of her MPs), her words came to symbolise an increasingly autocratic and inflexible approach to government.

PA Wire  PA Images
PA Wire PA Images

So, propped up for now by the DUP, it was widely anticipated that she'd go after Brexit, but before the next election.

I think it is fair to say that May's intervention was not perfectly calibrated. "I think it is too early to be talking about going on and on, as Margaret Thatcher once said".

The former told the BBC her performance would be assessed post-Brexit, while the latter - admitting that Theresa May could have said little else in response to questions about her future - believes she still won't lead the party into the next election.

Another potential leadership candidate, the backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, said: "It is right to back Mrs May and for her to continue".

The Prime Minister's statement took Westminster by surprise.

She said there was a "real job to be done" in the United Kingdom, including getting the "Brexit deal right" while building a "deep and special partnership" with the European Union. She's ideally placed to deliver a great outcome for our country and then deliver what we all want to see, which is this exciting agenda of global Britain. No Cabinet Minister has emerged from the pack as the obvious, alternative Prime Minister. "Theresa May leads a zombie government".

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