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Theresa May rejects calls to resign

British Prime Minister Mrs Theresa May has rejected calls to quit over her handling of Brexit, saying it is “not an issue about me”.

Theresa May
Theresa May

May was replying to Tory Brexiteer Andrea Jenkyns, who said she had “failed to deliver on her promises” and had lost public trust.

Calls have been growing for the prime minister to name an exit date. The PM’s spokesman said she had already promised to leave after delivering the first stage of Brexit and was sticking to that “generous and bold offer”.

May has agreed to address a meeting of the 1922 Committee – an elected body of Tory MPs which represents backbenchers and oversees leadership contests – next week.

Its chairman, Sir Graham Brady, said he had had two “very good meetings” with the PM, organised to raise concerns about her leadership.

He said it was clear she “wishes and is determined to do her best to secure our departure [from the EU]”, but the 1922’s executive would have the opportunity after next week’s meeting “to decide if the assurances they have had [from her] are sufficient or not”.

Sir Graham also said he believed the PM would ask the Commons to vote again on the terms of the UK’s exit before elections to the European Parliament take place on May 23.

The withdrawal agreement has effectively been rejected by MPs three times already.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says the prime minister has bought herself a bit more time.

In March, Mrs May pledged to stand down if and when Parliament ratified her Brexit withdrawal agreement, but she has not made it clear how long she intends to stay if no deal is reached. Pressure has grown on her since the Tories’ local election drubbing last week, and there have been warnings they face a meltdown in elections to the European Parliament too.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May said she was “very sorry” that so many councillors – 1 300, in fact – lost their seats.

But she told Ms Jenkyns the resolution to the Brexit crisis was “not an issue about me or her” – and if it was up to the prime minister, the UK would have already left the EU.

Much of the anger in the parliamentary party is focusing on Mrs May’s efforts to find a Brexit compromise with Labour.

Further pressure is also coming from the grassroots, with local Tory associations confirming they will hold a vote of confidence in her leadership on June 15.-BBC