Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation from outside 10 Downing Street Friday morning, stating she would be officially stepping down in two weeks time.
In her remarks outside the Prime Minister’s official residence, Theresa May said she had “done her best”, and “everything I can” to deliver Brexit by negotiating a deal with the European Union, but conceded “sadly I was not able to do so”.
Saying it was time for a new Prime Minister to lead Brexit, Mrs May said she would be resigning as leader of the Conservative Party on Friday 7th of June, so that a successor could be chosen.
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) May 24, 2019
In doing so, the Prime Minister fires the starting gun on a leadership race that has already been run behind closed doors for weeks. The details of her departure mean Mrs May could remain party leader, and hence Prime Minister, for weeks if not months more.
While she will officially relinquish the title of Conservative party leader in 14 days, May revealed she would also be staying on Prime Minister until her replacement is selected, which depending on how the election runs. When Mrs May became leader following the resignation of David Cameron in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum, she was selected within days as other candidates dropped out to give her a clear run.
In the case of David Cameron’s own ascension to the leadership, it took five and a half months between it being announced, and the final selection.
UPDATE 1205 — May will meet with President Trump before officially stepping down
The personal advantage to the Prime Minister of having a long departure, as seems will be the case with her announcing her resignation two weeks before it will actually happen, and then deciding to stay on as leader until her successor is chosen, is that she’ll get to enjoy all the perks of being boss without the pressure.
The visit will take place from Monday 3rd June to Wednesday 5th June this year. President Trump and Mrs Trump previously joined The Queen for tea at Windsor Castle in July 2018.
Find out more about State Visits here – https://t.co/GhgXtLI2jt
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 23, 2019
A good example will be the state visit of President Donald Trump to London, with events including a banquet with the Queen and, presumably, an address of Parliament. This visit will conclude on the 5th of June, 48 hours before May’s official last day.
This is something David Cameron never got to enjoy — the process of selecting his successor was over so quickly he never got the sunset period of diplomatic events without the worries of domestic politics which, as an outgoing leader, he could easily ignore.
What President Trump will think of spending time with the doomed and, by then, totally irrelevant Mrs May is yet to be seen. Perhaps he’ll request the opportunity to meet with other British political leaders during the visit as well.
REPORT: President Trump Wants Nigel Farage at State Visit Banquet https://t.co/M8fmuJy15U
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 20, 2019
UPDATE 1150 — Was Theresa May the worst Prime Minister ever?
British newspaper The Sun certainly thinks so. Breitbart London’s Jack Montgomery revisits some of the highlights of her time in No. 10:
Theresa May had clung on after surviving the loss of her parliamentary majority in the 2017 snap election, three historic parliamentary defeats for her proposed withdrawal treaty with the EU, a no confidence vote in which over half of her backbenchers called on her to go, calls to step down by the leadership of the party’s grassroots activists, devastating losses in English local elections, and dire polling for the European Parliament elections.
‘The Worst Prime Minister Ever’ – Reactions to Theresa May’s Resignation Roll In https://t.co/TgwH6Ip6ff
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 24, 2019
UPDATE 1110 — Is Nigel Farage the most dangerous man in British politics?
Politics so often comes down to the timing — so why has Theresa May chosen this moment to announce her resignation as leader, especially given just three days ago she took the podium in central London to lay out her grand plan to ram her Brexit withdrawal agreement through on the fourth attempt?
One explanation may be the European Union elections which took place yesterday, and which in every poll for weeks leading up to voting day Nigel Farage’s Brexit party was predicted to win.
But even though polls have now closed on that election in Britain, because other nations across the European Union are still voting to select their own representatives until Sunday it is a criminal offence to publish an exit poll for Britain’s vote, or any vote in Europe until Sunday night. This leaves Britain’s media in a strange situation where the Prime Minister may have chosen to resign now after seeing exit polling showing the Conservative party’s performance on Thursday — good or bad, we can’t say — but the rest of the country is forbidden from knowing about them for two more days.
I explained this and more in a post yesterday on the restrictive four-day control of press presently underway because of the EU elections in a post yesterday.
European Union Election Puts UK Media in Four-Day Bind as Government Unravels https://t.co/TBV9gNgLk6
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 23, 2019
Whether this is the case or not, it leaves the people of Britain staring one inevitable conclusion in the face — that Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has just claimed his second scalp of a British Prime Minister in three years.
The first came in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 European Union membership referendum, which Mr Farage’s then party UKIP forced Conservative leader David Cameron to give by winning the 2014 European Union elections. Mr Cameron had believed he’d easily win the referendum and so end the discussion on Europe in the UK for a generation, but to his great surprise was beaten by a Eurosceptic coalition led by Mr Farage.
Cameron announced his resignation as party leader just hours after Mr Farage’s Brexit victory became known.
And now a second Conservative Prime Minister falls, not without coincidence while Mr Farage dominates the headlines and as his new Brexit Party pulls ahead of the Conservatives in even general election polling (we can, thankfully, report general election polling even during this EU election).
The big question that remains, though: after losing their leader to a UK politician who doesn’t even have a seat in the Houses of Parliament twice, will the Conservatives now decide to select a leader who will stand up to Nigel Farage? Or will it be more of the same? Stay tuned…
UPDATE 1035 — The bookies say Boris is odds-on for next Tory leader
With Theresa May announcing her resignation ahead of the June 7th date, speculation has naturally turned to who might replace her. British bookmaker Betfair have Boris Johnson as their most likely pick — but he was also the bookmaker’s favourite in 2016 when David Cameron resigned. He dropped out of the race after behind allegedly stabbed in the back by a close ally who wanted to run for leadership himself.
Explaining the odds on the forthcoming leadership race, Betfair Spokesperson Katie Baylis said: “With Theresa May announcing this morning she will resign on the 7th June, the race is now on for Tory Leader and it’s no surprise that it’s Boris Johnson the clear leader of the pack at odds of 6/4 from 11/4 just a few days ago.
“With the leadership of the party having been such a hot topic for months, we’ve seen more than £1m bet on this market, with almost £300k on Boris – around a quarter of all money wagered.
“His main competition, as far as punters are concerned, is Dominic Raab at 6/1, while Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt are both at 12/1.
“Next in the betting is Andrea Leadsom at 15/1, her odds shortening following her resignation as leader from the House of Commons from 23/1 earlier this week.”
Update 1020 — The Prime Minister’s own words
The key lines from the Prime Minister’s speech this morning:
…back in 2016, we gave the British people a choice. Against all predictions, the British people voted to leave the European Union. I feel as certain today as I did then that in a democracy if you give people a choice then you have a duty to implement what they decide. I have done my best to do that. I have negotiated the terms of our exit, and a new relationship with our closest neighbours that protects jobs, our security, and our union.
I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so. I tried three times.
I believe it was right to persevere, even when the odds against success seemed high. But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interest of the country for a new Prime Minister to lead that effort. SO I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the COnservative and Unionist Party on Friday the 7th of June so that a successor can be chosen. I’ve agreed with the party chairman and with the chairman of the 1922 Committee that the process to elect a new leader should begin in the following week. I have kept Her Majesty the Queen informed of my intentions and I shall continue to serve as her Prime Minister until that process is concluded.
It is, and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit. 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.
The referendum was not just a call to leave the EU, but for profound change in our country. A call to make the UK a country that truly works for everyone.