Written byAnjana Raghav
British Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday she was "irritated" by speculation about a leadership contest as she slammed former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, seen as her most likely challenger.
The Conservative Party's leader said she was focused on securing a Brexit deal rather than her own future, in a BBC interview marking the six-month countdown to Britain's departure from European Union.
Johnson, who quit the Cabinet over May's proposals to keep Britain close to the EU on trade, is the bookmakers' favorite to succeed May, ahead of Interior Minister Sajid Javid, Eurosceptic Backbench Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, Environment Minister Michael Gove, and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
May blasted Johnson for using "completely inappropriate" language when he described her Brexit blueprint as putting Britain in a "suicide vest".
Asked about her plans to stay in the job, she said, "I get a little bit irritated, but this debate isn't about my future, this debate is about the future of the people of the UK and the future of the UK."
May's government contains a sizeable bloc of Brexiteers headed by Rees-Mogg and would likely need the support of left-wing main opposition Labour Party to get her Brexit proposals through Parliament.
Keir Starmer, Labour's Brexit spokesman, said any EU deal must meet Labour's key Brexit tests, which include delivering "exact same benefits" as Britain currently has inside the single market, to win their support.
In a letter published by The Sunday Times, Keir Starmer said they also couldn't back a loosely worded agreement.
"A vague political declaration would not meet those tests. Labour will not and cannot vote for a blind Brexit," Starmer said.
Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan added his weight to calls for a second Brexit referendum on the outcome of Britain's EU departure negotiations.
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