BRITISH prime minister Theresa May has announced that she will stand down as Conservative Party leader on June 7 ending her three year tenure in Downing Street as she bowed to the inevitable and conceded defeat in her battle over Brexit.
Since assuming office in 2016, Mrs May has been preoccupied with negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) known as Brexit. However, the move has proven to be harder than she expected as every time she returned to the House of Commons with a bill, it was rejected by MPs.
Her fate was sealed earlier this week when a 10-point new Brexit deal announced on Tuesday, infuriated Tory backbenchers and many of her own cabinet, while falling flat with the Labour MPs it was meant to persuade. Immediately the measure was announced, Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons resigned on Wednesday, rather than present the Brexit bill to parliament.
Like most other Tory MPs, Ms Leadsom was particularly infuriated by Mrs May’s promise to give MPs a vote on a second referendum as the Brexit bill passed through parliament and implement the result. A string of other cabinet ministers had also expressed concerns, including Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, Chris Grayling and David Mundell.
After a meeting with Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench Tory 1922 Committee, Mrs May decided to announce her leaving date when she was told that the committee was prepared to trigger a second vote of no confidence in her leadership if she refused to resign. Mrs May will remain in Downing Street, to shoulder the blame for what are expected to be dire results for her party from yesterday’s European elections and to host President Donald Trump when he visits early next month.
With her departure now set, the 1922 Committee will set out the terms of a leadership contest, due to kick off on 7 June and expected to last for about six weeks. This morning, a tearful Mrs Mat announced her departure outside Downing Street, listing a series of what she said were her government’s achievements, including tackling the budget deficit, reducing unemployment and boosting funding for mental health.
Mrs May said: “It had been the honour of my life to serve as Britain’s second female prime minister. I leave with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.
“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit. I have kept Her Majesty the Queen fully informed of my intentions and I will continue to serve as her Prime Minister until the process has concluded.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said: “Theresa May is right to resign. She’s now accepted what the country’s known for months that she can’t govern and nor can her divided and disintegrating party. Whoever becomes the new Tory leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate general election.
“The burning injustices she promised to tackle three years ago are even starker today. The Conservative Party has utterly failed the country over Brexit and is unable to improve people’s lives or deal with their most pressing needs.”
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, added: “It is difficult not to feel for Mrs May but politically she misjudged the mood of the country and her party. Two Tory leaders have now gone whose instincts were pro-EU, so its either the party learns that lesson or it dies.”
Candidates looking to succeed Theresa May have been setting out their stalls in public for weeks and more than 15 Conservatives are trying to launch leadership campaigns in what could be the most crowded leadership contest yet seen. Among the leading contenders are Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Esther McVey, Sajid Javid, Amber Rudd, Rory Stewart, Andrea Leadsom, Jeremy Hunt and Liz Truss.