Senior Tories 'urge Theresa May to stay on until 2021’
Theresa May is reportedly being urged to stay on as Prime Minister until near the time of the next election so as not to derail the fragile Brexit talks.
Senior Tory figures are said to believe an early exit from No 10 would hamper negotiations that are now expected to stretch months and even years beyond the UK’s exit date of March 2019.
The intervention comes just over a week after an underpressure Mrs May secured a last ditch agreement with the EU on phase one principles, allowing both parties to move on to negotiating future trade relations.
In a change of fortunes one cabinet minister told The Times any previously tipped leadership contest will be “pushed back and back”.
“She is not one to up sticks and leave. I’m confident that she will go on long beyond when many people expect,” they said.
“There is no clean and simple moment when she will or can leave."
The Government has previously been warned by the European Commission that while an outline of a future trade partnership is expected to be agreed by October 2018, a full document is unlikely to be hammered out until the end of 2020 at the earliest.
The next general election must be held before June 2022, while Conservative leadership contests take about four months.
Elsewhere it has been reported that the Prime Minister could delay a previously touted cabinet reshuffle in the New Year, following her turn of fortunes.
The Sun says Downing St aides are split on whether to hold back until after May’s local elections when a change-around could be used to reinvigorate the party after an expected wipe out in major cities.
“A reshuffle is not a card any PM can play too often, so you should only do one when you really have to,” a close ally to Mrs May told the paper.
“They have a habit of creating more problems than they solve, so there is a growing feeling not to rock the boat now Theresa is looking more solid.
“We will also get an undoubted kicking at the locals in May, so we’ll need something to regain the initiative after them.”
The move would also allow the Prime Minister to avoid major disruption in Government in the period up until March as ministers begin the early stages of trade talks with the EU.