May announces resignation setting off leadership contest
Theresa May ended months of speculation about her leadership this morning as she gave an emotional statement confirming she would resign as Leader of the Conservative Party on June 7th. She will remain as Prime Minister until a new successor is chosen by Conservative party members with the expectation that over a dozen candidates may enter the race.
The Prime Minister’s fate was sealed this week after a bruising rejection from her own MPs and ministers as she sought to make a final attempt to pass her Withdrawal Agreement. The Prime Minister’s ‘bold new offer’ would give MPs a vote on a second referendum, a temporary customs union and proposals to quell concerns over the Irish backstop. However, the ink was barely dry on the Prime Minister’s revised deal when a host of her own MPs, many of whom had reluctantly supported her third meaningful deal, one by one ridiculed her latest move.
The groundswell of anger within the Conservative party was evident on Wednesday when multiple cabinet ministers sought private meetings with the Prime Minister in a bid to derail her plan to legislate for her new deal. However, in a move which signalled the perilous position of her premiership, she refused to meet with her cabinet colleagues.
The crisis facing the Prime Minister reached a new level on Wednesday night after the Leader of the House of Commons resigned from the cabinet. After Andrea Leadsom’s decision, which is the 36thministerial resignation under Theresa May’s leadership, the writing was on the wall for No. 10. Downing Street eventually ceded to pressure from MPs on Thursday when it announced it would not go ahead with publishing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. All eyes will be focused over the coming days on the runners and riders who will seek to replace Theresa May, with Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab and Michael Gove expected to emerge as the main contenders.