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Prime Minister Theresa May announces resignation

Theresa May has confirmed that she will stand down as Conservative Party leader on June 7, triggering a contest that will determine the next prime minister.

Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge
Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge

Close to tears at the end of her speech outside No 10 Downing Street, she said: “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.”

She said it was a matter of “deep regret” that she had been unable to deliver Brexit, after her deal with the EU was rejected three times by MPs.

“I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against me were high.”

In a pointed message to her eventual successor, she said compromise was “not a dirty word” and would be required to achieve Britain's exit from the EU.

“Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise,“ she said.

She said she was “proud” of her work, helping to virtually eliminate the deficit, introduce policies that protect the environment and work to fight inequality.

Mrs May has been under enormous pressure to go, despite surviving a no confidence vote earlier this year.

The reaction to her 10-point new Brexit deal, announced on Tuesday, proved to be the final blow. It failed to build consensus across the political divide, and angered both Tory backbenchers and some members of her Cabinet.

Andrea Leadson, leader of the House of Commons, resigned yesterday (Wednesday) rather than present the Bill to Parliament.

Front-runners in the race to replace Mrs May as Tory leader and prime minister are Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, but there are suggestions that up to 17 MPs are considering throwing their hat in their ring.

Prime Minister Theresa May with her husband Philip May on a trade trip to China. Picture: No 10
Prime Minister Theresa May with her husband Philip May on a trade trip to China. Picture: No 10

Alex Mayer, a Labour Euro MP for the East of England, called for a general election.

She said: “This really is turning out to be the longest goodbye in history. This is the third time she’s announced she’s going.

“In December the PM said she would quit before the next general election then in March she said she would go before the next phase of Brexit negotiation started and last week she announced she would set a date after the EU withdrawal bill went back to the Commons.

“This has been a disastrous premiership that has further torn the country apart. But what we need now is not a Tory leadership contest but a General Election. Its time for the Tories to admit they have no plan for Britain and put the country first.”

Prime Minister Theresa May visiting Addenbrooke’s Hospital
Prime Minister Theresa May visiting Addenbrooke’s Hospital

South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen, who quit the Tory party during Mrs May’s premiership and is now interim leader of Change UK - the Independent Group, suggested that the prime minister should have showed more of the emotion visible in her speech during her time in the job, during which she was nicknamed the Maybot.

The daughter of a vicar who was state educated before reading geography at Oxford University, Mrs May was the longest-serving home secretary of modern times before spending three years as prime minister, succeeding David Cameron after the shock result of the 2016 EU referendum.

Despite her natural cautiousness, she gambled on holding a general election to strengthen her hand in 2017. It backfired, costing the Conservative Party its majority, and she held on to power only by striking a deal with the Democrat Unionist Party.

During her time as PM, she visited Addenbrooke's in Cambridge to set out plans to help thousands of men with prostate cancer get treated earlier and faster.

And a £200million investment in Cambridge Science Park by Tus Park was announced during her trade trip to China.

Her premiership was, however, dominated by Brexit. Despite being a Remainer at heart, she spoke of her firm belief that it was her duty to deliver on the result of the referendum - a theme she returned to her in resignation speech, which will be remembered as the most emotional of her time as prime minister.

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