British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that she
will step down from her role as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7. May
has presided over six months of failed negotiations with parliament for passage
of a Brexit deal to leave the European Union. In her speech, she conceded that
a new leader is needed to complete the deal. Britain is scheduled to leave the
EU on Oct. 31.
“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,” May said, as quoted by Politico.
“I have done my best to do that,” she added. “I have done everything I can to
convince MPs to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so. It is and
will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to
May said that she will remain on the job until a new leader
is selected, which means that she will still head the government when President
Trump visits the UK next month. Unlike the long American presidential election
process, the process to select a new leader will begin the following week and
will be decided quickly.
The leading contenders to replace her Michael Gove, currently
environment secretary and another member of the Conservative Party, also called
the Tories, Boris Johnson, a conservative member of Parliament and formerly foreign
secretary, and Dominic Raab, a Conservative and former Brexit Secretary.
The next prime minister will face the difficult task of bringing
together a sharply divided country in time to pass a Brexit deal. A Brexit with
no deal would mean that Britain leaves the EU with no agreements in place. This
would have a number of
effects that could severely curtail travel and trade between Britain and EU
countries. The effects on Britain’s economy could be devastating. Many members
of Parliament want to keep close ties with the EU, but the Brexit Party, led by
populist Nigel Farage, prefers a hard Brexit with no deal to maintain relations.
“A lot depends on whether they are serious about
no-deal,” said former Brexit Secretary David Davis. “If we go at this properly
and say we are going to do this properly, in my judgment the Brexit Party will
step back because this is a real, serious existential moment for the country.”