Theresa May says discussion of her leadership 'irritating'

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 Sunday 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."

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.