World News

May steps down as Conservatives leader

May steps down as Conservatives leader

Environment secretary Michael Gove, seen as a moderate candidate when it comes to Brexit, called for unity in the divided party.

Ever since Britain voted by 52% to 48% in 2016 to leave the European Union, the other 27 nations in the bloc have presented a united front in negotiations, finally agreeing late previous year to a detailed divorce plan with May's government.

Britain's opposition Labour Party has narrowly seen off a challenge from Nigel Farage's Brexit Party for a parliamentary seat in a by-election.

Her time as PM has been turbulent and overshadowed with mishaps and mistakes.

"Following notification from the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, that she has resigned as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the joint acting chairs of the 1922 Committee are inviting nominations from those Conservative Members of Parliament who wish to stand for election as the next party leader", read a brief statement from the party's backbench grouping.

But Labour's successful campaign to get its vote out in Peterborough, which backed Brexit by 61% to 39% in the 2016 referendum, foiled its bid to win a first seat in the British parliament.

May's carefully crafted Brexit deal with the bloc has been thrown out three times by Parliament, and departure day has been postponed from March 29 until October 31.

She became the party leader after Cameron's departure and the second female prime minister of the country on July 13, 2016.

Labour Party candidate Lisa Forbes reacts after winning the Peterborough by-election at the KingsGate Centre in Peterborough, Britain, June 6, 2019.

The Conservative leadership contest risks deepening the rift in the party over when, how or even if to leave the European Union - with a few of the almost dozen contenders ruling out serving in a future cabinet - if they are vanquished and lose out to a rival. She has reportedly said she will not officially resign as prime minister until someone is chosen who she believes has the support of the House of Commons.

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The selection process involves the 313 Conservative MPs whittling down the nominations to two.

May formally relinquished her leadership in the private letter to her party on Friday.

Once the victor of the leadership contest is announced, May will head to Buckingham Palace to tell the Queen she is handing over the job.

Pressure has mounted for the party to clarify its position on Brexit following a poor showing at the European elections.

"The EU didn't regard itself as negotiating with the transient British Prime Minister, it regarded itself as negotiating with the United Kingdom government", added Rutter.

Leader Richard Leonard has said he supports the policy and is confident members will back the plan.

Mr Gove this week said the October 31 Brexit deadline is "arbitrary" and refused to rule out a further delay.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to replace May, said the rise of the Brexit Party could open the door to a Corbyn government.

Whether it is Johnson, Hunt or one of the other contenders, political experts view Brexit as a poisoned chalice.

May 21, 2019: May offers a concession to lawmakers, giving them the chance to vote on whether to hold a new referendum on the country's membership in the European Union - but only if they back her thrice-rejected Brexit agreement.


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