Theresa May becomes second UK PM of Brexit to resign over Brexit

Under fire from various quarters over her approach to Brexit, an emotional Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday announced she will resign on June 7, making her the second prime minister to quit in three years over the deeply polarising issue in contemporary British history.

May took over in July 2016 after the Leave vote in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to resign. May has since seen 36 ministers resign over her approach and the House of Commons voting down her deal three times.

Standing outside 10, Downing Street, May said: “I negotiated the terms of our exit and a new relationship with our closest neighbours that protects jobs, our security and our Union. I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal”.

“Sadly, I have not been able to do so. I tried three times…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”.

“So I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday 7 June so that a successor can be chosen”.

The immediate provocation is the all-round criticism of her last week’s promise of presenting a new ‘bold’ Brexit deal to MPs in the week of June 3. The deal, which included MPs voting on holding a second referendum, is now considered dead.

May’s announcement soon shifted focus on the new party leader and prime minister. Boris Johnson, former foreign secretary, is the leading contender, while others in the race include home secretary Sajid Javid and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.

May, who will continue in office until the new leader is elected, was close to tears as she concluded her statement: “Our politics may be under strain, but there is so much that is good about this country. So much to be proud of. So much to be optimistic about”.

“I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold – the second female Prime Minister but certainly not the last. I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love”.

The UK’s second woman prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, May said it will always remain a matter of deep regret that she has not been able to deliver Brexit, but hoped that the Conservative party will soon renew itself and do that.

May will be in office during the forthcoming state visit of US President Donald Trump from June 3. The leadership contest will be triggered after her resignation on June 7. The new leader will be expected to steer the Brexit process until October 31, the new deadline for the UK to leave the EU.

First Published:
May 25, 2019 08:25 IST

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