UK leader: Talk of leadership during Brexit 'irritating'

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(Matt Dunham, Pool Photo via AP, File). FILE - In this July 24, 2018 file photo, British Prime Minister Theresa May listens at the start of her meeting with the Qatar's emir at 10 Downing Street in London. May has told the BBC in an interview scheduled... (Matt Dunham, Pool Photo via AP, File). FILE - In this July 24, 2018 file photo, British Prime Minister Theresa May listens at the start of her meeting with the Qatar's emir at 10 Downing Street in London. May has told the BBC in an interview scheduled...

By GREGORY KATZ
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - British Prime Minister Theresa May concedes that she gets "irritated" by the debate over her leadership during the difficult Brexit negotiations.

She told the BBC in an interview scheduled to be broadcast Monday that she is concerned for the country's future, not her own, as talks about Britain's upcoming exit from the European Union continue.

May faces a split in her Conservative Party, with some influential figures preferring a more complete break with the EU than she is advocating. Roughly 50 hard-liners met Tuesday night to discuss her possible ouster.

In the interview, May said the leadership talk can be distracting.

"I get a little bit irritated, but this debate is not about my future. This debate is about the future of the people of the U.K. and the future of the United Kingdom," she said. "That's what I'm focused on, and that's what we should all be focused on."

The opposition Labour Party is also increasingly divided over the Brexit issue. London Mayor Sadiq Khan broke ranks on Sunday with party leader Jeremy Corbyn to publicly back a second referendum of whether Britain should go forward with plans to leave the EU.

Writing in The Observer, Khan said Britain faces either a bad deal or no deal at all - options he said are "incredibly risky."

He said the public deserves a right to choose between any deal reached by the government or staying in the EU. He said that if no deal is reach, the public should be able to choose between the "no deal" scenario or remaining in the bloc.

The mayor's stance is expected to put more pressure on Corbyn at the Labour Party conference later this month.

In her interview, May criticized former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who resigned in July to protest her plan to keep some close ties to the EU after Brexit.

Johnson, who is seen by many analysts as positioning himself as a possible successor to the embattled prime minister, recently caused a furor by comparing May's Brexit strategy to a "suicide vest."

"I have to say that that choice of language is completely inappropriate," May said.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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