The United Kingdom’s prime minister Theresa May on Friday paved way for a new leader of her governing Conservative Party, announcing that she would step down on June 7.
“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 the 7th of June,” May said.
May has been under pressure to resign and give a new leader the opportunity to try and break an impasse over Britain’s departure from the European Union.
With her voice breaking up with emotion, May, who endured crises and humiliation in her effort to find a compromise Brexit deal that parliament could ratify, said she bore no ill will.
“I will shortly leave the job that has been the honour of my life to hold,” May said. “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,” May said.
May, once a reluctant supporter of EU membership, who won the top job in the turmoil that followed the 2016 Brexit vote, steps down with her central pledges – to lead the United Kingdom out of the bloc and heal its divisions – unfulfilled.
May bequeaths a deeply divided country and a political elite that is deadlocked over how, when or whether to leave the EU. She said her successor would need to find a consensus in parliament on Brexit.
May’s departure will deepen the Brexit crisis as a new leader is likely to want a more decisive split, raising the chances of a confrontation with the European Union and a snap parliamentary election.
The leading contenders to succeed May all want a tougher divorce deal, although the EU has said it will not renegotiate the Withdrawal Treaty it sealed in November.