'Theresa May expected to quit as UK PM on Friday'

Published: May 23, 2019
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British Prime Minister Theresa May. PHOTO: REUTERS

British Prime Minister Theresa May. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected on Friday to announce her departure from office, The Times reported, without citing a source.

May will remain as prime minister while her successor is elected in a two-stage process under which two final candidates face a ballot of 125,000 Conservative Party members, the newspaper said.

The report – authored by The Times’ political editor Francis Elliott – said May “defied an attempt to force her from office last night [Wednesday], insisting that she would spend today [Thursday] campaigning in the European elections.”

According to the newspaper, May was “finally cornered after cabinet ministers joined the Tory revolt over her offer to facilitate the option of a second referendum.”

The report was published the morning after prominent Brexit supporter Andrea Leadsom resigned from May’s government, piling pressure on the British leader after a new Brexit gambit backfired and fuelled calls for her to quit.

So far May has resisted, vowing to press on despite opposition from lawmakers and other ministers to her bid to get her Brexit deal through parliament by softening her stance on a second referendum and customs arrangements.

But Leadsom’s resignation has further deepened the Brexit crisis,
sapping an already weak leader of her authority. Almost three years since Britain voted to leave the European Union, it is not clear when, how or even if Brexit will happen.

Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, said she could not announce the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which will implement
Britain’s departure, in parliament on Thursday as she did not believe in it.

“I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result,” Leadsom, once a challenger to May to become prime minister, said in a resignation letter. “It is therefore with great regret and with a heavy heart that I resign from the government.”

A Downing Street spokesman praised Leadsom and expressed disappointment at her decision, but added: “The prime minister
remains focused on delivering the Brexit people voted for.”

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