Under fire British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday announced in an emotional address that she will step down as Conservative leader on June 7 after failing to persuade MPs to support her Brexit deal. May became the second prime minister to quit in three years over the deeply polarising issue in contemporary British history.
"It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit," May, her voice breaking with emotion, said in a statement outside her Downing Street residence.
"I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday, 7th June," May said.
"The process for electing a new leadership should begin in the following week," she said.
She will stay as caretaker Prime Minister until a new leader is chosen, a process likely to take several weeks. The new Conservative leader would then become Prime Minister without the need for a general election.
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.
"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".
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”.
May has bowed to relentless pressure from her party to quit over her failure to take the U.K. out of the European Union on schedule. Britain is currently due to leave the EU on October 31, but Parliament has yet to approve terms.
Pressure on Theresa to quit over her failure to get Parliament’s approval for a European Union divorce deal reached a critical point this week as House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom quit and several Cabinet colleagues expressed doubts about her Brexit Bill.
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”.
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