May steps down as Conservatives leader

Cheryl Sanders
June 10, 2019

British Prime Minister Theresa May has formally stepped down as leader of the governing Conservatives Party, officially triggering a contest to replace her that could see her party embrace a tougher stance on Brexit.

"Following notification from the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, that she has resigned as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the joint acting chairs of the 1922 Committee are inviting nominations from those Conservative Members of Parliament who wish to stand for election as the next party leader", read a brief statement from the party's backbench grouping.

Nearly a dozen Conservative lawmakers are already jostling to replace May in a contest that formally opens Monday, vowing to succeed where she failed and renegotiate Britain's divorce deal with the European Union.

Naturally reserved and reliant on her husband and a few close aides, she often says she is just quietly "getting on with the job".

"There will be no renegotiation", European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said - not for the first time - last week.

Polling analysis for the pro-EU campaign groups Best for Britain and Hope not Hate found that Labour would lose three votes to Remain parties for each one it lost to the Brexit Party.

Members of Parliament (MPs) voted down her proposed "Withdrawal Agreement" for a third time at the end of March, but May's departure may not necessarily mean that her blueprint for pulling the United Kingdom out of Europe will be completely discarded. He said Britain was "on course to leave by October 31", but he'd be willing to agree to a further delay if needed to finalize a deal.

"A dedicated public servant who loves this country and has done more to promote women in Conservative politics than nearly anyone else, her legacy will be one of decency and determination to do the right thing".

Across the English Channel, Brexit has shattered the U.K.'s political map.

The final day of her stint at the Tory helm was marked by defeat at the ballot box, as the party slumped into third place in the Peterborough by-election behind both Labour and Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

Despite the loss, Farage said the result showed that British politics had "fundamentally changed", with the stranglehold of the long-dominant Conservative and Labour parties now broken.

It's too soon to say whether he is right, but the bigger parties are anxious.

May replaced David Cameron in July 2016 after British voters chose to leave the EU.

May will keep the keys to Downing Street until her successor is elected when she will retire as prime minister and hand over the reins of power.

To proceed further, candidates will then need 33 MPs - 10 per cent of Tory MPs - to vote for them in the second round on June 18.

The victor of the contest is expected to be announced in the week of 22 July.

The race, which already has 11 candidates, is dominated by Brexit.

Her team has been eager to shape her legacy beyond the Brexit failure, but she bequeaths to her successor a nation where traditional political identities are being eroded by strong beliefs on whether Britain should leave the European Union, and how it should do so.

But Environment Secretary Michael Gove, another frontrunner, is open to other Brexit delay, while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said leaving with no deal is "political suicide".

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