British Prime Minister Theresa May quits as party leader, starting succession race

London — British Prime Minister Theresa May stepped down as leader of her Conservative Party on Friday, formally triggering the race for a successor who will try, where she failed, to deliver Brexit. May will remain prime minister until a new leader is chosen, likely in late July, but will make no further moves on Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Brexit is still scheduled for October 31st, but while the contenders thrash it out over leadership of the Conservative Party, the project remains stalled, with the only divorce plan agreed with Brussels rejected by Britain’s parliament.May took office after the shock 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU and has spent the past three years working on a departure plan, delaying Brexit twice to try to get the deal through.
She finally acknowledged defeat in a tearful resignation speech last month, the culmination of months of political turmoil that had slowly sapped her authority.”She remains prime minister for a good few weeks yet,” May’s spokesman insisted, noting that any successor must meet Queen Elizabeth II and assure the head of state that they have the support of enough lawmakers to take over.She will remain as acting leader of the Conservatives.Contenders to succeed MayEleven Conservative MPs have declared their intention to stand to replace Theresa May, including former foreign minister Boris Johnson, but some are expected to drop out before Monday’s deadline for nominations.The winner will have only a few months to decide whether to try to salvage May’s plan, delay Brexit again — or sever ties with Britain’s closest trading partner with no agreement at all.Johnson, a leading campaigner in the 2016 referendum, who quit the government last year over May’s plan, is among several would-be candidates who say they are willing to leave the EU without a deal if necessary.Environment Secretary Michael Gove, another front-runner, is open to another Brexit delay, while Hunt has said leaving with no deal is “political suicide”.