British PM Theresa May resigns

Theresa May has quit as British Prime Minister after she failed to get her Brexit deal through.

She will leave the job on June 7, just two days after a visit from US president Donald Trump for D-Day celebrations in England.

The decision opens up a wide leadership race, with former London mayor Boris Johnson the front runner last night.

"I'm proud of the progress we have made over the past three years," she said outside No. 10 Downing St.

"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."

Theresa May has announced her resignation. Picture: Supplied
Theresa May has announced her resignation. Picture: Supplied

Mrs May was in tears as she walked back into No. 10 as she spoke of the opportunity to serve the country that she loved.

She said she deeply regretted not being able to get Brexit done.

The British parliament has been in chaos again this week, with Mrs May's plan for a Brexit deal embarrassingly shelved from a vote.

It comes as counting was continuing in European elections, which British voters were forced to endure because the UK missed its deadline to the leave the EU.

The conservative Tory government was expected to poll one of its lowest ever votes.

Mrs May met with Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 committee on Friday.

The committee had discussed whether they change their long standing rules to allow a second no-confidence vote of Mrs May earlier in the week, but stopped short of the dramatic change.

Mrs May's supporters were privately saying that her time is up earlier this week.

The logjam around how to get Britain out of the European Union, which was voted on three years ago, has been the death of Mrs May's political career.

Andrea Leadsom quit the critical role as Commons leader this week over Mrs May's latest Brexit deal, which opened up the possibility of a second referendum.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has told Mrs May in a "frank discussion" that he did not believe her plan was right.

He reportedly made clear he does not believe the Government should be "paving the way" for a second referendum.

Mrs Leadsom said the Prime Minister's future was "a matter for her".

"But, for me, I felt I couldn't in all conscience stand up and deliver the business statement today with the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in it that I couldn't support elements of," she said.

"So, I have no doubts that I made the right decision and, of course, it's for the Prime Minister to decide what's right for her and for the country."

A 1922 Committee source said they expected Mrs May would stay until June, but warned there would be "much greater pressure" for her to go immediately if she introduces the WAB.

"Hopefully what will happen is she will stand down as Tory leader I think on or before June 10, and she will hopefully remain as caretaker Prime Minister until such time as a new Tory leader is elected," they said.

"My feeling is that she will stay until June 10."

Digital minister Margot James said: "It's all very regrettable but she's being hounded out of office because Parliament will not make a decision and the parties just have an inability to compromise.

"But in the end there's got to be a compromise."

Mrs May has previously agreed to set out the timetable for the contest to replace her after a vote on her latest Brexit deal, which had been expected on June 7.

 

CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER HOPEFULS

It's expected a Conservative Party leadership ballot will be held in two weeks time.

Here is a list of the main declared and potential hopefuls:

BORIS JOHNSON

Boris Johnson. Picture: Getty Images
Boris Johnson. Picture: Getty Images

 

A former mayor of London, "Boris" or "BoJo", has confirmed he would "of course" contest any upcoming leadership contest, surprising very few in Westminster.

A key figure in the 2016 Brexit campaign, he failed in a bid for the top job in its aftermath as ally Michael Gove withdrew his support at the last minute.

May appointed Johnson as foreign minister but he quickly drew attention for the wrong reasons, including a series of diplomatic gaffes.

He became increasingly uncomfortable with the government's Brexit strategy before resigning in July.

Charismatic and popular with grassroots Conservatives, he has maintained his public profile by writing a weekly column in The Daily Telegraph.

An endorsement from influential pro-Brexit backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has boosted his chances, but the 54-year-old has also earned plenty of enemies within the party for his behaviour.

He separated from his second wife in September and has a new girlfriend. He has recently lost weight and trimmed back his trademark mop of blond hair.

JEREMY HUNT

The foreign minister supported remaining in the European Union in the 2016 referendum but has been highly critical of what he calls the "arrogant" approach since taken by Brussels.

A former businessman who speaks fluent Japanese, he is a resilient politician, having headed up the National Health Service for six years during a funding crisis.

Hunt replaced Johnson as Britain's chief diplomat last year. Softly spoken and measured, he is calm under fire and has gradually seen his power and influence in cabinet rise.

The 52-year-old has signalled his intent to run for the leadership and, like several other contenders, recently invited a Sunday newspaper into his home for a profile.

Dominic Raab

An ardent Eurosceptic with a black belt in karate, the 45-year-old has quickly climbed the ministerial ladder after only joining the government in 2015 under former Prime Minister

David Cameron.

He backed Brexit and was named justice minister in the new cabinet after the 2016 referendum.

Raab later served as Brexit secretary from July to November 2018 when he stepped down in protest at the Brexit deal struck with the EU.

Just before his departure, he was widely mocked for saying that he "hadn't quite understood" how reliant UK trade in goods is on the Dover-Calais crossing.

Remaining outside government since then, he has appeared in campaign mode in recent months, reportedly hiring staff and giving multiple newspaper interviews.

MICHAEL GOVE

Michael Gove. Picture: Getty Images
Michael Gove. Picture: Getty Images

Brexit campaigner Gove initially supported Johnson's leadership bid in 2016 but at the last minute announced his own intention to run, causing both men to lose out to May.

"Whatever charisma is, I don't have it," he admitted in the race in which he came third.

After a year in the political wilderness, he was appointed environment minister in June 2017 and has stayed in the headlines with a series of eco-friendly policy announcements.

Equally active in his previous justice and education briefs, he is a minister who likes to see through radical new policies.

Following a series of resignations, the cerebral 51-year-old is among the most ardent Eurosceptics left in May's faltering government.

SAJID JAVID

A former investment banker and the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, the 49-year-old Javid is the face of a modern, multicultural and meritocratic Britain.

On the economically liberal wing of the Conservative Party, Javid voted for Britain to stay in the EU in 2016.

Since being appointed interior minister in April 2018, he has earned respect for his handling of a scandal over the treatment of the children of Caribbean immigrants, known as the Windrush generation.

However, he was recently criticised in liberal circles for stripping a teenage mother who ran away to join the Islamic State group of her British nationality.

ANDREA LEADSOM

Former Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom, who lost out to May in the 2016 contest to replace Cameron, stole a march on her rivals by quitting her cabinet position on Wednesday, hastening the prime minister's demise and staking out her pro-Brexit credentials.

She got down to the final two in the 2016 race, but pulled out before the decision was handed over to party members, with whom she was popular, after coming under fire for saying that being a mother would give her an advantage as prime minister over childless May.


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