UK’s May quits as party leader, starting succession race

Prime Minister Theresa May stepped down as leader of Britain’s governing Conservative Party on Friday, formally triggering the race for a successor who will try where she failed to deliver Brexit.

May, who quietly tendered her resignation in a private letter to the party, will remain prime minister until a new leader is chosen, likely in late July, but leaves Britain’s tortuous departure from the European Union stalled.

Brexit is still scheduled for October 31 but while 11 contenders thrash it out over the leadership, the project remains stuck, with the only divorce plan agreed with Brussels having been repeatedly rejected by parliament.

“Following notification from the Prime Minister Theresa May MP that she has resigned as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, (we) are inviting nominations from those Conservative members of parliament who wish to stand for election as the next party leader,” the committee in charge of the contest said.

“(She) will remain as acting leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party until her successor has been announced.”

May took office after the shock 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU and has spent the past three years working on a departure plan, delaying Brexit twice to try to get the deal through.

But she finally acknowledged defeat in a tearful resignation speech last month, the culmination of months of political turmoil that had slowly sapped her authority.

  • AFP
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