Theresa May has announced her resignation as the Conservative leader, and eventually as the prime minister of the United Kingdom, after weeks of deadlock and chaos surrounding several failed attempts to push her European Union Withdrawal Agreement through parliament.
On Friday morning, May announced she will step down as the Conservative leader on June 7. She will stay on as prime minister until her successor is chosen, May added.
The move came after a meeting with the chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of her Conservative party backbenchers.
“I have done my best to implement the result of the referendum,” she said outside 10 Downing Street, which has been her home since shortly after the UK voted by a narrow margin to leave the EU.
“I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back my deal,” May added.
“It is a matter of deep regret that I have not delivered Brexit. My successor must find consensus in parliament.”
The race to replace her began a few weeks ago, with at least three leading Conservative figures declaring their candidacy for the leadership.
But whoever replaces her will face the same parliamentary arithmetic which denied May an outright majority and a public greatly dissatisfied both with the delivery of Brexit and the state of the nation’s leadership more generally.
“I know the Conservative Party can renew itself in the years ahead,” said May.
Discontent had been rife within the Conservative Party, growing to unsustainable levels this week, with several key government and backbench figures calling for her resignation.
May’s days were numbered after concessions made to opposition politicians over her Brexit deal failed to win support among opponents, and left her own allies feeling betrayed.
Andrea Leadsom, a key ally in May’s cabinet, resigned on Wednesday night, and several senior figures were said to have had “frank” discussions with her on Thursday.
May concluded her speech with a litany of claims of her government’s achievements, before issuing a rallying call to future women leaders:
“[I was] the second female prime minister, but certainly not the last. It has been the honour of my life to serve the country that I love.”