UK's May to Resign as of June 7 05/24 06:40
Theresa May announced Friday that she will step down as U.K. Conservative
Party leader on June 7, admitting defeat in her attempt to take Britain out of
the European Union and sparking a contest to become the country's next prime
LONDON (AP) -- Theresa May announced Friday that she will step down as U.K.
Conservative Party leader on June 7, admitting defeat in her attempt to take
Britain out of the European Union and sparking a contest to become the
country's next prime minister.
She will stay as caretaker prime minister until the new leader is chosen, a
process likely to take several weeks. The new Conservative leader will become
prime minister without the need for a general election, and will take up the
task of trying to secure Britain's exit from the EU.
Her voice breaking, May said in a televised statement outside 10 Downing St.
that she would soon be leaving a job that it has been "the honor of my life to
May became prime minister the month after Britons voted in June 2016 to
leave the European Union, and her premiership has been consumed by the attempt
to deliver on that verdict.
Now she has bowed to relentless pressure from her party to quit over her
failure to take Britain out of the EU on the scheduled date of March 29.
Britain is currently due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, but Parliament has yet to
approve divorce terms.
"I feel as certain today as I did three years ago that in a democracy, if
you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide," May
"I have done my best to do that. ... But it is now clear to me that it is in
the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort."
Multiple contenders are already jockeying to replace her and take up the
challenge of securing Britain's EU exit. The early front-runner is Boris
Johnson, a former foreign secretary and strong champion of Brexit.
Conservative lawmakers increasingly see May as an obstacle to Britain's EU
exit, although her replacement will face the same issue: a Parliament deeply
divided over whether to leave the EU, and how close a relationship to seek with
the bloc after it does.
May spent more than a year and a half negotiating an exit agreement with the
EU, only to see it rejected three times by Britain's Parliament.
Pressure on May reached breaking point this week as House of Commons Leader
Andrea Leadsom quit and several Cabinet colleagues expressed doubts about the
bill she planned to put before Parliament in a fourth attempt to secure
Parliament's backing for her Brexit blueprint.
Leadsom, another likely contender to replace May, joined colleagues in
paying tribute to the departing leader. She tweeted that May's "dignified
speech" had been "an illustration of her total commitment to country and duty.
She did her utmost, and I wish her all the very best."
Johnson, whose relentless criticism helped push May out of the door,
tweeted: "Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the
Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and
But Johnson, or any other successor, will face a tough challenge to unite a
country and a Parliament still deeply divided over the country's relationship
The next British leader is likely to be a staunch Brexiteer, who will try to
renegotiate the divorce deal, and if that fails to leave the bloc without an
agreement on departure terms.
Most businesses and economists think that would cause economic turmoil and
plunge Britain into recession. Parliament has voted to rule out a no-deal
Brexit, though it remains the legal default option.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker praised May as "a woman of
courage" for whom he has great respect.
EU spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Juncker will "equally respect and
establish working relations" with any new British leader.
But the bloc insists it will not renegotiate the Brexit deal.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted that the "agreement reached between
the EU and the United Kingdom for an ordered Brexit remains on the table."
Angela Merkel's spokeswoman, Martina Fietz, said the German chancellor noted
May's decision "with respect" and would continue to work closely with her
successor for "an orderly exit."
In an emotional departure speech, with close aides and her husband Philip
looking on, May said she was Britain's "second female prime minister but
certainly not the last."
She said she was leaving "with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring
gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love."