Live updates as tearful Theresa May confirms June 7 departure
The Prime Minister had faced calls to resign after a backlash against her new Brexit deal.
A tearful Theresa May announced she was quitting the job it had been the “honour of my life to hold” as she set out the timetable for her exit from Number 10.
The Prime Minister said she will resign as Tory leader on June 7, paving the way for the potentially brutal contest to replace her to begin the following week.
Here are the latest developments:
In a Twitter thread, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “During the last three years of leading our nation through times of profound change and uncertainty, Theresa May has shown determination, resilience and a sense of public duty that has never wavered. That is a service to us all that deserves our admiration and gratitude.
“As Mrs May prepares to stand down from office over the coming months, this is a moment to pause and pray for her and her husband, Philip, whose support has been unwavering, and for all those around them working to ensure a smooth transition into new leadership.
He added: “Every day in churches across the country, we pray for our political leaders. We pray that they be guided and strengthened in wise leadership that strives for the common good.”
“In these critical times in our shared national life, people of faith should commit to pray for all those who lead, all those who are led, and work together with all of goodwill, especially for those who are vulnerable and on the margins.
“As Christians we pray that our society would be shaped around Christ’s hope-filled vision of abundant life for every person.”
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Twitter: “I would like to express my full respect for @theresa_may and for her determination, as Prime Minister, in working towards the #UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU.”
In a joint statement, Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis, and vice chairs of the 1922 Committee Dame Cheryl Gillan and Charles Walker said they were “saddened” by Mrs May’s decision but “understand it” and “thank her for her years of service to our party and our nation”.
“As an activist, a councillor, a devoted constituency MP, a loyal member of the Shadow Cabinet in our long years of opposition, our first female party chairman, as a bold and reforming Home Secretary, and throughout her time as our nation’s second female Prime Minister, she has shown great dedication, courage and tenacity.
“She embodies the finest qualities of public service and, with this decision, has once again demonstrated her strong sense of duty and devotion to the national interest.
“After the Prime Minister has resigned as leader of the Conservative Party, we will begin the process to elect a new leader.
“The timetable for this is set by the Executive of the 1922 Committee after consultation with the party board, which includes representatives of the voluntary, Parliamentary and professional party. We intend that the Parliamentary stages of the contest – which involves determining the final choice of candidates to put before all members of the party – should begin with the close of nominations in the week commencing June 10.”
Here is Theresa May’s resignation speech in full:
Chancellor Philip Hammond tweeted: “Theresa May has served this country as Prime Minister with great dignity & commitment for nearly three years. She has worked tirelessly to deliver Brexit & to forge the compromise that will be necessary to do so. It has been a privilege to serve alongside her as her Chancellor.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster said: “After the General Election in June 2017, we worked with the Prime Minister and her team through the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
“Whilst at times there were differences in our approach, particularly on Brexit, we enjoyed a respectful and courteous relationship.
“In particular, I commend and thank the Prime Minister for her dutiful approach on national issues and her willingness to recognise Northern Ireland’s need for additional resources through Confidence and Supply arrangements.
“I pay tribute to her selfless service in the interests of the United Kingdom and wish her well for the future.”
Liberal Democrats Leader Sir Vince Cable tweeted: “The Prime Minister is right to recognise that her administration has reached the end of the road. Sadly her compromises through the last three years have too often been with the right-wing of her own party, rather than about bringing the country together.”
“Conservative Party interest has always trumped national interest, and yet Conservative MPs continue to demand an ever more extreme Brexit policy. The best and only option remains to take Brexit back to the people. I believe the public would now choose to stop Brexit.”
Theresa May was driven out of Downing Street by the rear exit accompanied by her husband Philip and escorted by a convoy of unmarked police cars.
Mr Corbyn continued: “The last thing the country needs is weeks of more Conservative infighting followed by yet another unelected Prime Minister.
“Whoever becomes the new Conservative Leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate General Election.”
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, said: “She has now accepted what the country has known for months: she cannot govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrating party.
“The burning injustices she promised to tackle three years ago are even starker today.
“The Conservative Party has utterly failed the country over Brexit and is unable to improve people’s lives or deal with their most pressing needs.
“Parliament is deadlocked and the Conservatives offer no solutions to the other major challenges facing our country.”
Several more leadership candidates offered tributes to the PM on Twitter.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Nobody could have worked harder or had a greater sense of public duty than the Prime Minister. Her dedication in taking our country forward has been monumental. She has served her country with fortitude and we are grateful to her for it.”
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart tweeted: “The Prime Minister has been an immensely dignified public servant – it has been a great honour to work with her and for her – we owe @theresa_may a great debt of gratitude.”
Bookmaker Ladbrokes said Boris Johnson was the immediate favourite to replace Mrs May, at odds of 5-4.
Dominic Raab was second at 5-1, according to the company, while Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove were tied in third place at 10-1.
They were followed by Jeremy Hunt (12-1), Penny Mordaunt, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart (all 20-1).
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said: “As a Party we must come together to make a success of the next phase of our Party’s great story.
“Brexit is a process and compromise is needed to pass a Deal that works for everyone.
“We must show we can lead this great country to the strong future that I know we can deliver.”
Irish premier Leo Varadkar described Mrs May as honourable and deeply passionate.
In a statement, he said: “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.
“Politicians throughout the EU have admired her tenacity, her courage and her determination during what has been a difficult and challenging time.
“Theresa May strove to chart a new future for the United Kingdom. I want to wish her the very best for the future.
“I look forward to working closely with her successor.”
The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell tweeted: “As the PM’s Chief of Staff for the last two years, I have seen at first hand her commitment to public service and her incredible resilience as she has confronted the biggest challenge any British Government has faced since the Second World War. It has been an honour to serve her.”
Prominent European Research Group member Steve Baker, who strongly opposed the PM’s Brexit deal, tweeted: “Very dignified statement from Theresa May, beginning to set out the many things which she has achieved in office. This is a sad but necessary day.”
Andrea Leadsom, who resigned as Commons Leader on Wednesday, tweeted: “A very dignified speech by @theresa_may. An illustration of her total commitment to country and duty. She did her utmost, and I wish her all the very best.”
Mrs May said the “unique privilege” of being PM is to use the platform to give a “voice to the voiceless” and to fight the “burning injustices that still scar our society”.
She listed her work on mental health care, domestic abuse, the race disparity audit, gender pay reporting, and the Grenfell Tower inquiry.
The Prime Minister said: “This country is a union: not just a family of four nations, but a union of people, all of us – whatever our background, the colour of our skin or who we love, we stand together and together we have a great future.
“Our politics may be under strain but there is so much that is good about this country.
“So much to be proud of, so much to be optimistic about.”
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said it was “time to get on” with the process of choosing a new prime minister.
“I am very sorry it has come to this. Nobody could have worked harder, or shown a greater sense of public duty, in delivering the result of the EU referendum than Theresa May,” he said.
“She has my utmost respect for those endeavours, in the most challenging of circumstances, as well as her unswerving commitment to the Union.
“As Mrs May herself acknowledges, she has, however unfairly, become an impediment to the resolution of Brexit and was no longer being given a hearing by Parliament.
“Yesterday’s elections will surely show that delivering Brexit is now more urgent than ever, and that will fall to a new Prime Minister. It’s time to get on with the process of appointing one.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss, a candidate to replace Mrs May, tweeted: “Very dignified statement from the Prime Minister. She has put her all into the job and has shown huge resilience at this difficult time. #ThankYou #PMStatement”
Labour MP David Lammy, who opposes Brexit, tweeted: “Theresa May’s premiership was doomed from the moment she bound the country to the ERG’s impossible red lines.
“Every PM who maintains the fantasy that we can leave the EU but keep the benefits is destined to fail – and sadly the next one may bring the country with them.”
Mrs May said that in order to deliver Brexit, her successor would have to build a consensus in Parliament.
“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret that that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” she said.
“It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honours the result of the referendum.
“To succeed, he or she will have to find consensus in Parliament where I have not.
“Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise.”
After the PM broke down in tears, Change UK Interim Leader Heidi Allen tweeted: “Oh @theresa_may , why didn’t we see that emotion more? Things could have been so different….”
Mrs May, her voice cracking, concluded her speech saying: “I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold.
“The second female prime minister, but certainly not the last. I do so with no ill will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.”
Mrs May said that the process of electing her successor would begin the week after she finally stepped down as Conservative leader.
She said that she had informed the Queen that she would continue to serve as Prime Minister until that process was complete.
The Prime Minister broke down as she said it had been “the honour of my life” to serve “the country that I love”.
Theresa May said she had “done my best” to deliver a Brexit deal as she made a statement about her future in Downing Street.
“I have striven to make the UK a country that works not just for a privileged few but for everyone and to honour the result of the EU referendum,” she said.
Mrs May said: “It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.”
Theresa May has announced she is standing down as Tory party leader on Friday June 7.
Theresa May is expected to make a statement at around 10am, Downing Street confirmed.
Broadcasting equipment and a lectern have been set up in Downing Street amid expectations the PM’s statement will be within the next 30 minutes.
Helen Grant, the Conservative vice chair for Communities, has resigned from her position in order to “actively and openly” support one of the new leadership candidates, she said on Twitter.
Former chancellor Ken Clarke suggested the majority of Tory MPs did not support their own party in the European election.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I suspect the majority of Conservative MPs did not vote Conservative yesterday.”
Former Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said he could vote for Boris Johnson to take over from Theresa May.
When asked whether he could back Mr Johnson, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The answer to the question for almost all the candidates is yes.
“I would find it very difficult to support a candidate who said it was in Britain’s best interest to leave with no deal, leave straight away, WTO…
“I don’t expect any candidate really to say that.”
The Prime Minister has arrived in Downing Street where she is understood to be meeting 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady after a cabinet revolt over her latest Brexit plan and the delay of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB).
Tory backbenchers’ representative Sir Graham is expected to insist that she should set out when she will resign, with a 1922 Committee source telling the Press Association Mrs May’s departure date is likely to be June 10.
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