Theresa May will stay on as British prime minister to get Brexit done, even if that means remaining in the job until the end of October, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said.
May has promised to step aside once the divorce agreement has been passed in Parliament, so a new leader can take charge of the next phase of Brexit talks focusing on the future partnership with the European Union. Many politicians in the ruling Conservative Party want to force her out sooner, but Hammond suggested they’ll be disappointed.
“As far I know she doesn’t have any intention of leaving until that deal is done,” Hammond said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Francine Lacqua at the International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington. “She’s a person with a strong sense of duty, she’s a person who feels she has an obligation to the British people to deliver Brexit, and she will certainly want to make good on that obligation.”
In the interview, Hammond said:
- The government is open to discussing a permanent EU customs union with Labour in compromise negotiations, though he said that doesn’t mean the government would accept it
- Brexit extension to Oct. 31 has increased the period of uncertainty
- Tory leadership rivals are already “jockeying for position to succeed her, but that’s just one of the those things”
- A Conservative Party leadership election before Brexit is concluded would be a mistake: “What I do believe very strongly is that starting the leadership process before we have resolved the question would not be helpful, it would look self-indulgent”
- If voters had wanted economic security, they would have chosen to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum; instead they made a political and emotional choice to leave