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May to resign as UK Prime Minister

May to resign as UK Prime Minister
British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the street outside 10 Downing Street in London, England, Friday. (AP)
London, May 24 (IANS) | Publish Date: 5/24/2019 11:59:18 AM IST

UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Friday that she will step down as the leader of the ruling Conservative Party on June 7, paving the way for a leadership battle to appoint Britain’s next Prime Minister.

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 a speech outside Downing Street after meeting with her government’s Chief Whip Julian Smith, the lawmaker in charge of trying to keep party unity in Parliament.

Fighting tears, May said: “I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success were high. 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.

“So I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on 7th of June, so that a successor can be chosen, I’ve agreed... that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week. 

“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 honours the referendum. To lead, he or she will have to find consensus in parliament where I have not.”

May’s Brexit withdrawal bill has been rejected three times in the House of Commons. 

Her voice croaked as she ended her speech saying: “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.”

She took over from David Cameron when he resigned the day after the Brexit referendum in June 2016. 

May’s announcement came after a meeting with Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee - which was prepared to trigger a second no-confidence vote in her leadership if she refused to resign.

A number of May’s Cabinet members and colleagues paid tribute to her following the development. 

Amber Rudd, who has served as May’s Home Secretary and Work and Pensions Secretary, said she had shown “great courage”.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called her a “true public servant”.

May resignation changes nothing in Brexit talks: EU

The European Union said Friday that Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation does nothing to change its position on the Brexit withdrawal deal that its members agreed with Britain.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted May’s decision “without personal joy,” a spokeswoman said, adding that the council of EU leaders has “set out its position” on the Brexit deal.

Some of the candidates to replace May as leader of the Conservative Party and thus prime minister have said they would seek to change the terms of the divorce deal she negotiated.

But commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva old reporters that the other 27 EU leaders had approved the deal as it stands and that there are no plans to re-open its terms.

As has long been the case, Brussels could envisage modifying a non-binding political declaration that accompanies the Brexit treaty to flesh out ambitions for future EU-UK ties.

But the withdrawal agreement, which May tried and failed three times to get past the British parliament, is not up for renegotiation, Andreeva said, reiterating the EU stance.

Juncker, she said, “very much liked and appreciated working with Prime Minister May and, as he as said before, Theresa May is a woman of courage for whom he has great respect.

“He will equally respect and establish working relations with any new prime minister, whoever they may be, without stoping his conversations with Prime Minister May,” she said.

“Our position on the Withdrawal Agreement and anything else has been set out by Margaritis yesterday. There is no change to that,” she added, referring to chief EU spokesman Margaritis Schinas.

 

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