UK PM May takes swipe at front-runner Boris Johnson

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street for her weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons in London, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Britain's Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a visit to the port of Dover, southeast England, while on the campaign trail, Thursday July 11, 2019. The two contenders, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson are competing for votes from party members, with the winner replacing Prime Minister Theresa May as party leader and Prime Minister of Britain's ruling Conservative Party. (Chris Ratcliffe/Pool via AP)

LONDON — Outgoing British Prime Minster Theresa May has leveled a thinly disguised swipe at Conservative Party front-runner Boris Johnson as she underscored the necessity of character in taking on the country's top post.

May told the Daily Mail in an interview published Friday that the job of prime minister is not about power but about public service. Though she didn't mention Johnson by name, he has made a career out of being the biggest personality in the room.

"All too often, those who see it as a position of power see it as about themselves and not about the people they are serving," she said. "There is a real difference."

May stepped down from being Conservative Party leader after her failure to get Parliament to approve a plan for Britain's departure from the European Union. Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt are in a runoff for that post, which will also make the winner Britain's next prime minister. The runoff vote will be announced July 23.

May underscored she had done all she possibly could to try to get her Brexit deal approved and did nothing to conceal her frustration with the fact that some of her most strident opponents on Brexit are those now backing Johnson.

She added it's unlikely that her successor will negotiate further Brexit concessions from the EU.

"I had assumed mistakenly that the tough bit of the negotiation was with the EU, that Parliament would accept the vote of the British people and just want to get it done, that people who'd spent their lives campaigning for Brexit would vote to get us out on March 29 and May 27," she told the Mail. "But they didn't."

May, who will return to Parliament as a lawmaker, also took issue with those who chided her for becoming emotional as she announced her departure from the post.

"If a male prime minister's voice had broken up, it would have been said "what great patriotism, they really love their country." But if a female prime minister does it, it is 'Why is she crying?'" she said.

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Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party leadership race at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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