Theresa May admits 'I got us into this mess' in meeting with Tory MPs

Meeting of the 1922 Committee brought forward so the PM could explain her plans for working with the DUP

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Monday 12 June 2017 18:33
Theresa May leaves Downing Street on the way to a meeting of the Conservative Party's 1922 Committee
Theresa May leaves Downing Street on the way to a meeting of the Conservative Party's 1922 Committee

Theresa May has admitted responsibility for the Conservative Party’s disastrous election result, telling her backbench MPs: "I got us into this mess, and I'm going to get us out."

The Prime Minister’s comments came during a meeting with Conservative MPs, the first time she has faced them since squandering her party's majority in the House of Commons.

She also signalled that she may be open to re-calibrating her approach to Brexit, telling MPs that she would listen to "all voices" in the party on the issue.

Backbenchers reported that Ms May was given a far colder reception than when she first took control of the party last year, but said she had been "contrite" following her catastrophic election gamble.

The meeting of the Conservative 1922 Committee, which is meant to speak for backbenchers in the party, was brought forward a day as Ms May urgently tried to shore up her vulnerable position amid talk of a potential coup.

The Prime Minister said to her MPs that she would only stay as leader "as long as you want me", but indicated a clear intention to remian in Downing Street with her pledge to get the party out of the "mess" her premiership has left it in.

But she also paved the way for changes in her approach to Brexit, which has riled many who want to see her striking a more collaborative tone.

George Osborne calls Theresa May a 'dead woman walking' two days after election

Pushed on her approach to EU withdrawal by a Brexiteer at the meeting, the PM said that it is important to "listen to all voices in the party".

Among those MPs who asked questions at the gathering in Palace of Westminster committee room, were former leader Iain Duncan Smith and ex-education secretary Nicky Morgan.

One MP at the crowded meeting described the Prime Minister as "contrite and genuine, but not on her knees", as Ms May repeatedly apologised for the election result that cost her party its grip on power.

Others reported that the Prime Minister offered reassurances ahead of a meeting with the DUP tomorrow, that any deal she strikes with the Northern Irish unionists will not affect gay rights.

Another Tory MP said there was no discussion at the meeting of how long Mrs May would remain in post, adding: "she's won, she's got to be PM".

The event came shortly after it was revealed that the State Opening of Parliament could be delayed beyond its scheduled date of June 19 by ongoing negotiations with the DUP to prop up Ms May's minority administration. The planned start of talks on Britain's withdrawal from the EU on the same date could also be put back.

Senior Conservatives acknowledged that the failure to secure an overall majority in the Commons will also mean the agenda set out in their manifesto would have to be "pruned back".

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