June 25, 2019
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UK PM Theresa May to stand down on June 7

London, May 24 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom's prime minister Theresa May said Friday she will stand down on June 7.

Her departure will pave the way for a Conservative leadership battle to appoint a new head of government just as the country navigates the choppy waters of Brexit.

May, who has come under increased pressure from her own party to announce her departure date amid internal schisms over her handling of Brexit, gave an emotional speech outside her official Downing Street residence in London.

"I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success were high," May said, after her Brexit withdrawal bill was rejected three times in the House of Commons.

"But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interest of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort," she continued.

"So I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday the 7th of June, so that a successor can be chosen, I've agreed with the party chairman and the chairman of the 1922 Committee that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week," the 62-year-old PM said after meeting with her government's Chief Whip, Julian Smith, the lawmaker in charge of trying to keep party unity in Parliament.

The United States President Donald Trump is due to visit the UK between June 3-6.

"It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.

"It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honors the referendum.

"To lead, he or she will have to find consensus in parliament where I have not," May said.

"I will shortly leave the job that has been the honor 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," a visibly emotional May concluded.

She said she had kept Britain's Queen informed of her plans.

The bookmakers favorite to replace her is former mayor of London and foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who on Friday wrote on Twitter: "A very dignified statement from Theresa May.

"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 deliver Brexit."

He had already announced his leadership bid before May's speech.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said May had made the correct decision in resigning.

"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," he said.

May took over from David Cameron in July 2016 after he announced his resignation on June 24, the day after the referendum in which 52 percent of UK voters opted to leave the EU.

It quickly became clear that her bid to deliver Brexit would be difficult as a picture of a bitterly divided country began to emerge.

The former Home Secretary also faced an increasingly uphill struggle trying to pass her flagship withdrawal bill – the product of lengthy negotiations with Brussels – through the country's lower chamber of parliament.

MPs shot the nearly 600-page document down three times, including once by a historic defeat, dealing a major blow to May's political image.

In a bid to consolidate her mandate to deliver Brexit, she called a snap general election in June 2017, a year after the referendum, in what transpired to be a huge misjudgment as she lost her majority.

Disadvantaged by her government's minority standing in the chamber, for which she relied on the Northern Irish party, the Democratic Unionists, she met growing opposition from within her own ranks as pro-Brexit backbench Tories turned against her leadership.

She survived no-confidence motions from Labour and the right-wing of her own party earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the leader of the House of Commons, Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom, resigned over May's handling of Brexit.

The UK had been due to leave the EU on Mar. 29 but the date has since been pushed back twice and is now set to go ahead on Oct. 31.

Euroskeptic members of the Conservative Party turned against May and deemed her withdrawal bill over concessionary while the DUP frequently stalled proceedings over their opposition to the prospect May's deal would keep Northern Ireland in a special customs union with the EU. EFE

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Related content

May, the UK prime minister who fell victim to Brexit

By Paula Baena Velasco and Viviana García

London, May 24 (efe-epa).- Brexit has claimed the tenure of the United Kingdom's Theresa May, who on Friday announced she would resign without completing her flagship mission as prime minister – to successfully bring the country out of the European Union.

"It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit," May said as she announced she would stand down as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7 in a speech outside her official Downing Street residence in London in which she was visibly emotional.

May threw in the towel under mounting party pressure for her to resign over her handling – or mishandling – of Brexit, which she has doggedly pursued against parliamentary odds since taking over as Tory leader.

Landing that elusive parliamentary majority for her withdrawal deal, which was struck up with Brussels over two years, has been her sole objective in recent months.

The House of Commons, the UK's lower chamber of lawmaking, rejected the 585-page bill, three times, the first time by 432 votes against, the heaviest defeat for a sitting prime minister in modern history.

This failure prompted the opposition Labour party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, to table a motion of no confidence against May's government in January. The Conservative leader survived it by 19 votes.

Before that, May dodged another no-confidence motion, this time lodged by backbench members of her own party, which she survived by 85 votes.

Battered and bruised by the confidence motions, incessant criticism and rebellion in her own party and ebbing public opinion eroded her political image.

Born in Eastbourne in the south of England on Oct. 1, 1956, May is the daughter of an Anglican vicar and grew up to be a studious child and would eventually read Geography at the University of Oxford.

While at Oxford, she was introduced to her now-husband Philip May by fellow student Benazir Bhutto, the assassinated former prime minister of Pakistan. The pair married in 1980.

A fan of cricket, fashion and proud owner of over 100 cooking books, May has publicly lamented her inability to have children.

The former Home Secretary has at times been compared to the "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher for her obstinacy.

She began her political career in 1986 after a six-year spell working at the Bank of England and was elected to the House of Commons in 1997 to represent the constituency of Maidenhead.

May soon became a prominent figure in the Conservative Party and held several senior roles in the shadow government during Labour leader Tony Blair's time in office (1997-2007).

In 2010, when David Cameron was the leader of the Tories, she was appointed Home Secretary, a post she held simultaneous with minister for women and equalities.

May took over from Cameron when the latter resigned in the wake of the Brexit vote in 2016.

"Brexit means Brexit," became her choice slogan as she promised to deliver on the referendum result.

Less than one year after taking up residence at Downing Street, May called snap elections in June 2017 in a bid for a political mandate to pursue Brexit.

It was a huge miscalculation as the new Tory leader lost the government majority achieved by Cameron in 2015, forcing her to extend a hand to the Democratic Unionists of Northern Ireland as a confidence and supply party.

Since then, May oversaw the drawn-out negotiation process with Brussels. Brexit shook the party and she lost several key ministers in the process including Boris Johnson, who announced his leadership bid before May even announced her resignation, David Davis, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey.

Her party was wrenched apart by divisions on Brexit from those who backed remain, to former remain supporters who now back leave – like May herself – to staunch Brexit supporters.

Despite this, May managed to navigate through stormy waters and signed a withdrawal deal with Brussels in 2018.

Her deal never made it over the final hurdle, the House of Commons. EFE-EPA

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