May 24 (UPI) — British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Friday she will resign next month, following three years of failing to solidify a deal to leave the European Union, following three years of failing to solidify a deal to leave the European Union.
Speaking from 10 Downing Street, May said she’s tried to create a country that works for everyone, and that democracies must honor the wishes of the voters.
“I have done my best to do that,” she said, referring to the 2016 referendum in which Britons voted to leave the European Union. “I negotiated the terms of our exit and a new relationship with our closest neighbors that protects jobs, our security and our union. I’ve done everything I can to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do that.”
May will step down as prime minister and Conservative Party leader June 7 — nearly three years after she took office — and a process to select a successor should begin the following week.
She added that despite the politics of Britain being under strain, there is much good and much to be proud of.
“I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honor of my life to hold — the second female prime minister but certainly not the last,” she said. “I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.”
The British leader said it will always remain “a matter of deep regret” that she was not able to deliver an agreement after failing three times to win support from British lawmakers. One of the most recent failures forced her to delay Britain’s exit until Oct. 31.
“It is now clear to me it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort,” she said.
May had said previously she’d resign if members of British Parliament voted to support her exit proposal. They didn’t, and many called on her to resign anyway.
May’s resignation follows her plan to submit a fourth proposed agreement to leave the EU, which was supposed to be unveiled Friday. On Thursday, however, that plan was scrapped when it appeared it, too, doesn’t have enough support from Labor lawmakers or members of her own Conservative Party — like the leader of the House of Commons, who quit a day earlier over the matter.
May said Friday her successor must 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,” she said.
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has emerged as a favorite to succeed May, as has lawmaker Steve Baker.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said Friday May’s resignation lessens the likelihood of an orderly EU departure.
“We need a change of approach to Brexit based on compromise & a will to heal the growing divisions in our country,” Drakeford tweeted.
The French government is asking for a “rapid clarification” on the status of Britain’s exit, and a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she noted May’s announcement with respect. A spokesman for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he enjoyed working with May, respects her and feels no “personal joy” about her resignation.