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Theresa May

Theresa May has announced that she will step down as Conservative Party leader on 7 June

May broke into tears at the end of a statement announcing her departure date.

LAST UPDATE | May 24th 2019, 12:57 PM

THERESA MAY HAS announced she will step down as Conservative leader on 7 June, paving the way for a Tory leadership contest with the eventual winner set to take over as British prime minister. 

The Prime Minister made the announcement in an emotional statement outside 10 Downing Street this morning.

BRITAIN-LONDON-THERESA MAY Theresa May speaking outside 10 Downing Street today. Xinhua News Agency / PA Images Xinhua News Agency / PA Images / PA Images

May broke down in tears as she delivered the final sentences of her speech saying it has been “the honour of my life” to be the “second female prime minister, but certainly not the last.”

A Conservative Party leadership contest will officially get underway when May’s resignation kicks in and reports indicate that the party intends to have a new leader in place before the end of July. She will remain as Prime Minister until her successor is appointed. 

The development prompted calls for a general election from opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said a no-deal Brexit is now “more likely than it’s been at any point”.

Similar sentiments were shared by a spokesperson for the Spanish government who said that a hard Brexit seems “almost impossible to avoid”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar released a statement wishing May the best in the future.

“I got to know Theresa May very well over the last two years. She is principled, honourable, and deeply passionate about doing her best for her country, and her party,” he said.

Politicians throughout the EU have admired her tenacity, her courage, and her determination during what has been a difficult and challenging time.

The resignation follows a torrid week for May, who has been dealing with intensifying criticism from within her party since a speech on Tuesday laying out her latest plan to get her Brexit bill through parliament. 

Conservative Andrea Leadsom quit her role as Commons Leader on Wednesday, saying she no longer believed the government’s approach would deliver Brexit. 

May took over as Tory leader and prime minister in July 2016 after David Cameron quit in the wake of the Brexit vote, pledging in her first speech to build a “country that works for everyone”. 

Her authority was left in tatters after the result of a snap election left her party without a parliamentary majority the following summer, forcing the Conservatives into a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP. 

She has faced growing criticism from MPs (some of the harshest coming from her own backbenches and even ministerial ranks) over her handling of Brexit in recent months. However, she narrowly survived a party vote of no confidence last December.

With reporting by Céimin Burke

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