Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday she would step down on June 7, succumbing to calls in her governing Conservative Party to make way for a new leader to try to break an impasse over Britain’s departure from the European Union.
“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, 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.
She endured crises and humiliation in her effort to find a compromise Brexit deal that parliament could ratify, and bequeaths a deeply divided country and a political elite that is deadlocked over how, when or whether to leave the EU.
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.