UK Prime Minister Theresa May announces departure date of June 7

Now live
01:02 mins.
24.05.2019

Theresa May's resignation timetable

In an emotional address, Theresa May has announced she will resign as prime minister on June 7. The race to succeed her will likely start after a state visit by US President Donald Trump.

Theresa May said on Friday that she will step down as leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore prime minister, on June 7.

May spoke of her "deep regret" at being unable to deliver Brexit despite her best efforts.

The announcement came after she met with Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative backbench MPs. 

"The Brexit referendum was a call for profound change in our country," she stressed. "I did my best to implement the will of the people."

Fighting back tears, she said she was "the second female prime minister, but not the last," adding it was "the honor of my life to serve the country I love."

She will remain in charge on a caretaker basis until a successor is found.

Read moreEU leaders react to Theresa May's resignation

'Let's deliver Brexit'

The frontrunner to replace May, Boris Johnson, thanked her for "stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party." He also said, "It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit."

Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd also responded with a call for unity: "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."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon both called for a general election.

Related Subjects

"The prime minister is right to have resigned. She cannot govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrating party. The last thing the country needs is weeks of more Conservative infighting followed by yet another unelected prime minister," Corbyn said.

Sturgeon said that May's departure "will not solve the Brexit mess that the Tories have created. The prospect of an even more hard-line Brexiteer now becoming PM and threatening a no deal exit is deeply concerning."

Inevitable demise

May had faced increasing pressure to resign in recent months following three unsuccessful attempts to push her Brexit deal through parliament.

A last-ditch 10-point plan revealed this week was immediately met with derision from friends and foes alike. Jeremy Corbyn called it a "rehash of her old bad deal."

Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, left her position on Wednesday, saying she no longer believed in the government's approach to exiting the European Union.

May had initially planned to publish her Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Friday, but said that would be postponed until June 3. She had described her plan as "one last chance" for Brexit to happen.

Read more: Brexit deal: What Germany wants, what Theresa May can get

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is the bookmakers' favorite to become Britain's next prime minister. "BoJo" is widely tipped following stints as mayor of London and as foreign secretary in Theresa May's government. The 54-year-old has threatened to refuse to pay the UK's agreed debts to the EU unless the withdrawal agreement is changed.

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Michael Gove

A leading driver behind Brexit, Gove's leadership campaign took a hit when a new book was published revealing he had taken cocaine on several occasions when working as a journalist 20 years ago.

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Jeremy Hunt

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's chances improved as Gove's declined. The 52-year-old voted to remain in the EU and claimed he had spoken to Chancellor Angela Merkel about Brexit during the D-Day celebrations. He said she told him: "Germany doesn’t have a border with the Republic of Ireland, you do, so you need to come up with a solution."

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Sajid Javid

The son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, Sajid Javid is the current UK Home Secretary (interior minister), a role for which he has received mixed reviews. He had a successful banking career with Chase Manhattan and Deutsche Bank before entering parliament in 2010. During the Brexit referendum, Javid was on the Remain side but — like Theresa May — was guarded in his support for the cause.

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Rory Stewart

Educated at Eton College — the same school attended by Boris Johnson and David Cameron — Rory Stewart is currently International Development Secretary. A former diplomat who trekked thousands of kilometers across the Middle East and South Asia, he also served as a senior official governing parts of post-invasion Iraq. Stewart is strongly opposed to Britain leaving without a deal.

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Dominic Raab

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, the son of a Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany, said the possibility of sidelining parliament to force through Brexit should not be ruled out. He was widely mocked in 2018 when he said he "hadn't quite understood" how reliant UK trade is on the Dover-Calais crossing. Raab fell out of the race after getting 30 votes in the second round, 3 fewer than needed.

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Matt Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock entered the race to replace the PM the day after her resignation. Although he campaigned for Remain during the referendum, Hancock has said he now believes Britain should leave the EU with a deal. Probably the most tech-savvy of the contenders, Hancock received barely enough support to continue after the first round of voting and opted to drop out of consideration.

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Esther McVey

Former television presenter Esther McVey declared her intention to stand long before May resigned. The vocal Brexit hardliner resigned as work and pensions secretary in November, protesting at the terms of May's withdrawal deal. She is no longer a contender after getting only 9 votes of 313 in the first round of voting.

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Andrea Leadsom

Leadsom quit as Leader of the House of Commons the week of May's resignation announcement. She came second in a leadership bid in 2016 but was criticized at the time for saying that being a mother would give her an advantage as prime minister after May had previously spoken of her anguish at not being able to conceive. Leadsom is out of the race after getting only 11 votes in the first round.

Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?

Mark Harper

A former immigration minister and chief whip, Harper was behind the Home Office's "go home" message to immigrants printed on vans. He said it is not credible Brexit could be renegotiated and passed before the end of October. An outsider in the leadership race, Harper is no longer under consideration after he got only 10 votes in the first round of selection.

Johnson leads the race

The leadership contest will likely start on June 10, following a state visit by US President Donald Trump. "Theresa May will be prime minister to welcome him and rightly so," said Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Former Foreign Secretary Johnson is the current favorite. He can expect to face competition from former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, as well as a potential second run for power from Leadsom.

Leadsom lost out to May in the bid to succeed David Cameron in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Theresa May's time in office has been dominated by Britain's attempts to leave the EU. The current date of departure is October 31, providing Parliament passes the divorce deal.

The delay to Brexit means the UK has taken part in European Parliament elections, which run across the bloc until Sunday. 

jsi/rt (Reuters, AP)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.