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17 Jun 2019 10:38
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  •   Home > News > International

    British Prime Minister Theresa May says she's standing down after failing to negotiate Brexit deal

    British Prime Minister Theresa May announces she will resign on June 7, saying "it's a matter of deep regret" that she failed to negotiate a Brexit deal.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced she will resign as Conservative Party leader on June 7, saying "it's a matter of deep regret" that she failed to negotiate a Brexit deal.

    Mrs May made the announcement outside 10 Downing Street after meeting with Conservative Party powerbrokers to work out a timetable for her departure.

    She will remain as Prime Minister while the Conservative Party holds a leadership contest beginning the week of June 10, but that contest could last until the end of June.

    That means Mrs May will be PM during US President Donald Trump's state visit and for D-Day commemorations at the start of June.

    Mrs May's announcement follows months of calls from within her own party to quit over the UK's bungled attempt to leave the European Union following the 2016 referendum on the issue.

    "I believe it was right to persevere, even when the odds against success seemed high," Mrs May said during her resignation speech.

    "But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort."

    For many colleagues, the final straw was her decision to revise her unpopular Brexit deal and soften her position on a possible second referendum.

    "It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I will not be able to deliver Brexit," she said.

    "It will be up to 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."

    A large field of candidates is expected to bid for the top job, including prominent Brexiteer Boris Johnson and former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, who quit her role on Thursday.

    Mrs May showed a rare display of emotion in her departure speech, breaking down towards the end as she gave thanks for serving "the country I love".

    "I will shortly leave the job that has been the honour of my life to hold — the second female prime minister, but certainly not the last," she said.

    "I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love."

    Corbyn reiterates calls for general election

    Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn used Mrs May's resignation to call for an immediate general election, something the Labour leader has been pushing for throughout the past year.

    "The Prime Minister is right to have resigned," Mr Corbyn wrote on Twitter.

    "She has now accepted what the country has known for months: she cannot govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrated party.

    "Whoever becomes the new Conservative Party leader must let the people decide our country's future, through an immediate general election."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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