LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May, recovering from a dismal performance at her Conservative Party’s annual conference and a rare public threat to her leadership, says she’s not backing down in the fact of political adversity.
“I am a very determined person,” she told The Sunday Times when asked if she had considered abandoning her conference speech after a series of miscues Wednesday that included a heckler, a severe coughing fit, and an embarrassing failure of the set she was speaking from. “I am not someone who gives up.”
The same applies to her determination to fight back Conservative Party doubts about her leadership. She said she has been bothered by the sniping — from her own party and the British news media — but is bouncing back.
“The truth is my feelings can be hurt, like everyone else, but I am pretty resilient,” she said.
May’s grip on the party’s loyalty has been weakened by its poor performance in the snap election she called for June, which cost the Conservative Party its majority status and strengthened the hand of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
She has endured a particularly difficult stretch, with the disappointing party conference speech followed by a claim by former party chairman Grant Shapps that he had a list of 30 legislators who wanted May to step down.
The immediate rebellion in party ranks seems to have been quelled for the moment, but could flare up at any time.
Former Prime Minister John Major urged Conservative Party members to support May and scolded those who have plotted against her.
“I urge all Conservative (lawmakers) to reflect very carefully on what is at stake,” he wrote in the Daily Mail. “The country has had enough of the self-absorbed disloyal behavior we have witnessed for weeks.”
Major’s comments were viewed by some as a warning to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who while publicly backing May has twice proposed his own policies on the delicate Brexit negotiations over Britain’s future relationship with the European Union.
Johnson on Sunday reiterated his support for May, but many believe he has his eye on the top spot.
May is reported to be considering a Cabinet shakeup in the coming weeks. Some are pressuring her to demote Johnson from his highly visible post of foreign secretary.
The prime minister denied reports that she cried after the conference speech.
“One minute journalists are accusing me of being an ice maiden or a robot, then they claim I’m a weeping woman in dire need of a good night’s sleep,” she said.