British PM resignation paves way for Brexit confrontation with EU

Theresa May.
Theresa May.
Image: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday said she would quit, triggering a contest that will bring a new leader to power who is likely to push for a more decisive Brexit divorce deal.

May set out a timetable for her departure: She will resign as Conservative Party leader on June 7 with a leadership contest in the following week.

"I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist party on Friday, 7 June so that a successor can be chosen," May said outside 10 Downing Street.

May, once a reluctant supporter of EU membership, who won the top job in the turmoil that followed the 2016 Brexit vote, steps down with her central pledges - to lead the United Kingdom out of the bloc and heal its divisions - unfulfilled.

She endured crises and humiliation in her effort to find a compromise Brexit deal that parliament could ratify, and bequeaths a deeply divided country and a political elite that is deadlocked over how, when or whether to leave the EU.

May's departure will deepen the Brexit crisis as a new leader is likely to want a more decisive split, raising the chances of a confrontation with the European Union and a snap parliamentary election.

The leading contenders to succeed May all want a tougher divorce deal, although the EU has said it will not renegotiate the Withdrawal Treaty it sealed in November.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May was visibly emotional on May 24 2019 as she delivered the final sentences of her resignation speech outside Downing Street, London.

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