Theresa May quits: UK set for new PM by end of July

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May

(BBC)-Theresa May has said she will quit as Conservative leader on 7 June, paving the way for a contest to decide a new prime minister.

In an emotional statement, she said she had done her best to deliver Brexit and it was a matter of “deep regret” that she had been unable to do so.

Mrs May said she would continue to serve as PM while a Conservative leadership contest takes place.

The party said it hoped a new leader could be in place by the end of July.

It means Mrs May will still be prime minister when US President Donald Trump makes his state visit to the UK at the start of June.

Mrs May announced she would step down as Tory leader on 7 June and had agreed with the chairman of Tory backbenchers that a leadership contest should begin the following week.

On Friday, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt became the latest MP to say that he would run for the party leadership, joining Boris Johnson, Esther McVey and Rory Stewart, who had already confirmed their intentions. More than a dozen others are believed to be seriously considering entering the contest.

In her statement, Mrs May said she had done “everything I can” to convince MPs to support the withdrawal deal she had negotiated with the European Union but it was now in the “best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort”.

She added that, in order to deliver Brexit, her successor would have to build agreement in Parliament.

“Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise,” she said.

Mrs May’s voice shook as she ended her speech saying: “I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold.”The second female prime minister, but certainly not the last.

“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 prime minister had faced a backlash from her MPs after announcing her latest Brexit plan earlier this week, which included concessions aimed at attracting cross-party support.

In a statement, the Conservative Party said the likely timetable for the party leadership contest was that nominations would close during the week beginning 10 June, with the process of whittling down candidates to the final two to conclude by the end of the month.

Those names would then be put to a vote of party members before the end of July.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who is seen as the front-runner to succeed Mrs May, said: “A new leader will have the opportunity to do things differently and have the momentum of a new administration.”

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said she had been “right to resign” and that the Conservative Party was now “disintegrating”.A series of Conservative MPs praised Mrs May following her statement.