UK leader Theresa May will reportedly announce her departure date Friday

Sam Meredith
  • May is likely to promise she will step down as leader by June 10, multiple media reports published Thursday, citing unnamed Cabinet sources.
  • Sterling edged 0.1% higher to trade at $1.2668 at around 08:50 a.m. London time Friday.
  • The world's fifth-largest economy still faces an array of options when it comes to Brexit, including an orderly exit with a deal, a no-deal departure, a general election or a second referendum that could ultimately reverse the 2016 vote to leave the bloc.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce a firm date for her departure from Downing Street on Friday, according to multiple media reports.

The embattled leader could outline a timetable for her successor to be chosen shortly after meeting with the chairman of Conservative Party backbenchers at 9:00 a.m. London time.

May is likely to promise she will step down as leader by June 10, according to multiple media reports, citing unnamed Cabinet sources. CNBC has not been able to independently verify these reports and a spokesperson for Downing Street wasn't immediately available for comment.

A mid-June departure date would mean May remains in place for the state visit of President Donald Trump , with reports suggesting she would stay on as prime minister until her successor had been selected.

Sterling edged 0.1% higher to trade at $1.2668 at around 08:50 a.m. London time Friday.

The U.K. leader had already promised to set a timetable for a new prime minister to take the reins, once lawmakers had voted on her new Brexit "Withdrawal Agreement Bill."

But, her proposals, including a customs union arrangement and the chance for lawmakers to vote on holding another Brexit referendum, prompted anger from many Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs).

The opposition Labour party said May's latest Withdrawal Agreement Bill was a "rehash" and would not support the plans.

New leader brings new risks

Reports of May's imminent departure come after months of intensifying pressure on the embattled leader, with Parliament comprehensively rejecting the withdrawal agreement she had negotiated with the European Union on three separate occasions since the start of the year.

"I think a new leader would not really resolve the current stalemate because it is likely that he or she will come from the more intransigent, euroskeptic side of the Tory party while the parliamentary arithmetic has not really changed," Silvia Dall'Angelo, senior economist at Hermes Investment Management, told CNBC Friday morning.

"Therefore, the risk is that with a new leader, the institutional tensions between the prime minister and Parliament will, if anything, increase. This in turn could lead to a government crisis, general election and more uncertainty down the road," Dall'Angelo said.

The world's fifth-largest economy still faces an array of options when it comes to Brexit, including an orderly exit with a deal, a no-deal departure, a general election or a second referendum that could ultimately reverse the 2016 vote to leave the bloc.

"I really can't see Theresa May lasting for longer than the next few weeks," James Downes, a lecturer in comparative politics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, told CNBC on Friday.

"In terms of the European parliamentary elections, I think the serious issue right now for the Conservative Party should not be Theresa May, it should be about the overall picture," Downes said.

On Thursday, the U.K. voted in European Parliamentary elections, two months after the country was initially supposed to have left the EU. Results are not scheduled to be announced until Sunday evening, when voting concludes across the bloc.



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