British Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Friday that she will resign effective June 7, conceding that it was “in the best interest of the country” that her Conservative party choose a new leader to preside over Britain’s scheduled October departure from the European Union.
May’s emotional announcement, made from the steps of No. 10 Downing Street, represents the culmination of six months of failed negotiations in which she proved unable to secure support among fellow conservatives for the soft Brexit deal she negotiated with Brussels.
“I feel as certain today as I did three years ago that in a democracy, if you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide. I have done my best to do that,” she said. “I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so.”
The substantial pressure on May to resign after a series of failed votes to ratify her Brexit deal increased yet again last month in response to a historically bad showing for her Conservative party at the polls, where they lost more than 1,300 local seats.
A number of May’s most vocal detractors, including hard-line Brexiteer Boris Johnson, praised her decision to step down and said it might serve as an opportunity for the government to finalize a Brexit deal.
A very dignified statement from @theresa_may. Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) May 24, 2019
Johnson resigned from May’s cabinet earlier this year in opposition to the terms of May’s Brexit deal, which he argued betrayed the will of the British people by leaving the country too entangled with the EU.
May’s announcement comes days after Brexiteers and Remainers alike rejected a series of final changes to her Brexit deal, one of which set the stage for a possible second referendum. The Conservative party will hold a vote to determine her successor on June 10.