Theresa May 'prepared to demote Boris Johnson in Cabinet reshuffle'

7 October 2017, 23:50

Theresa May has suggested she would not shy away from demoting Boris Johnson amid reports she is preparing a Cabinet reshuffle.

The Prime Minister has faced down a fresh call to resign in recent days, following a party conference speech plagued by a coughing fit, falling scenery and a prankster.

In a bid to revitalise her administration, Mrs May is reportedly set to make changes to her top team following the European Council meeting on October 19-20.

:: POLITICS LIVE: All the latest amid Tory turmoil

A Cabinet reshuffle would prompt questions over the future of Boris Johnson, who has faced calls to be sacked over two Brexit interventions which appeared to undermine the PM's authority.

Asked what she planned to do with the Foreign Secretary, Mrs May indicated she would be prepared to demote him as she told The Sunday Times: "I didn't come into politics for an easy life.

"It has never been my style to hide from a challenge and I'm not going to start now.

"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."

Mrs May added that she had an "uncomfortable" time during her party conference speech but never considered leaving the stage early.

"I am a very determined person," she said. "I am not someone who gives up."

Amid speculation over the Prime Minister's future, Mr Johnson urged Conservative colleagues to "get behind the PM" and turn their fire on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn instead.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary compared the Tory party to a herd of elephants that "sniffed the air and turned sensibly away from the cliff" before forcing Mrs May out.

Mr Johnson added that only "nutters" in the party want to oust the Prime Minister, saying he backed her to secure a "great and successful Brexit".

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson also got behind the Prime Minister, saying there had been some "unfortunate
shenanigans" in the party "but the pushback has been pretty strong".

And in comments likely to be viewed as a swipe at Mr Johnson, Ms Davidson told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show being a politician is "about delivering for the country, it's not and should never be about private ambition".

She also pointed out that the Foreign Secretary had backed the Prime Minister's Florence speech on Brexit, saying Mrs May should "hold him to that".

Former prime minister Sir John Major has also lashed out at "disloyal" Tory MPs and ministers, saying he views the turmoil in the Tory party with "increasing dismay".

But he urged Mrs May to take radical action to win over voters by increasing public spending and reviewing controversial welfare changes.

It comes as Mrs May has reportedly decided to commit billions of pounds on preparing Britain to leave the European Union without a deal.

The spending is not expected to appear in the Budget and will be "unlocked" in January if no concrete progress is made with Brussels, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

It will be spent on measures which include new technology to speed up border customs checks if the UK has to revert to a World Trade Organisation tariff system, the paper added.

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