BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May announced in an emotional address that she will step down as Conservative leader on June 7 after failing to persuade MPs to support her Brexit deal.
“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” May said in a statement outside Number 10 Downing Street.
The resignation will signal the formal start of a leadership contest during which May would remain as caretaker prime minister.
“I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday, 7th June,” May said.
“The process for electing a new leadership should begin in the following week,” she said.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt became the latest British MP to say that he would run for the party leadership, joining Boris Johnson, Esther McVey and Rory Stewart, who had already confirmed their intentions. More than a dozen others are believed to be seriously considering entering the contest.
In a statement, the Conservative Party said the likely timetable for the party leadership contest was that nominations would close during the week beginning 10 June, with the process of whittling down candidates to the final two to conclude by the end of the month.
The leadership race is expected to take several weeks and the party said it hoped a new leader could be in place by the end of July.
In her statement, Mrs May said she had done “everything I can” to convince MPs to support the withdrawal deal she had negotiated with the European Union but it was now in the “best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort”.
She added that, in order to deliver Brexit, her successor would have to build agreement in Parliament.
“Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise,” she said.
The prime minister had faced a backlash from her MPs after announcing her latest Brexit plan earlier this week, which included concessions aimed at attracting cross-party support.