Theresa May, has set out a timetable for her departure as UK Prime Minister, announcing that she will be leaving the role on 7 June.
In Downing Street May said: “Ever since I first stepped through the door behind me as Prime Minister, I have striven to make the United Kingdom a country that works not just for a privileged few, but for everyone. And to honour the result of the EU referendum.
“Back in 2016, we gave the British people a choice. Against all predictions, the British people voted to leave the European Union. I feel as certain today as I did three years ago that in a democracy, if you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide. I have done my best to do that.
“I negotiated the terms of our exit and a new relationship with our closest neighbours that protects jobs, our security and our Union. I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so. I tried three times.
“I believe it was right to persevere, even when the odds against success seemed high. But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new Prime Minister to lead that effort. So I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday 7 June so that a successor can be chosen.
“I have agreed with the Party Chairman and with the Chairman of the 1922 Committee that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week. I have kept Her Majesty the Queen fully informed of my intentions, and I will continue to serve as her Prime Minister until the process has concluded.
“It is, and will always remain, a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit. It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honours the result of the referendum. To succeed, he or she will have to 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.”
May continued: “I am proud of the progress we have made over the last three years. We have completed the work that David Cameron and George Osborne started: the deficit is almost eliminated, our national debt is falling and we are bringing an end to austerity.
“My focus has been on ensuring that the good jobs of the future will be created in communities across the whole country, not just in London and the South East, through our Modern Industrial Strategy.
“We have helped more people than ever enjoy the security of a job. We are building more homes and helping first-time buyers onto the housing ladder – so young people can enjoy the opportunities their parents did. And we are protecting the environment, eliminating plastic waste, tackling climate change and improving air quality.”
May concluded: “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.”
Responding to the Prime Minister’s resignation, Scott Knowles, East Midlands Chamber Chief Executive, said: “For the past three years businesses have had to deal with uncertainty surrounding the country’s exit from the European Union. It is essential that the forthcoming leadership campaign within the Conservative party be swift and followed urgently by a clear plan to break the impasse.
“The Chamber thanks Theresa May for her decades of public service. It is essential now that businesses see real progress on Brexit and a renewed focus on creating an exciting, outward facing economy that encourages investment, creates jobs and supports prosperous communities.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “The Prime Minister could not have worked harder to deliver a Brexit deal that protects the economy. She leaves office with the respect of business.
“But her resignation must be now be a catalyst for change. There can be no plan for Britain without a plan for Brexit. Winner takes all politics is not working. Jobs and livelihoods are at stake.
“Business and the country need honesty. Nation must be put ahead of party, prosperity ahead of politics. Compromise and consensus must refind their voice in Parliament.
“We call on politicians from all parties, on all those ambitious to lead, to take this chance for a fresh start.”
Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation said: “Theresa May has worked hard to secure a pragmatic departure from the EU that protected our world class British manufacturing industry. We acknowledge her tenacity and hard work. In the last two years we have welcomed her focus on a modern industrial strategy and building strong relationships with business.
“Britain’s manufacturers now call on whoever takes over as Prime Minister to find a solution to the Brexit dilemma at speed. We have limited time before we leave the EU in October and we must avoid using much of that time engaged in Westminster politics. Extended lack of clarity over Britain’s future trading environment with our most important market risks making an already bad situation worse: Make UK has consistently highlighted how serious we consider this issue to be.
“We look forward to working as closely and successfully with the new Prime Minister, building on the foundations laid by Theresa May – it is critical that as we face the UK’s biggest ever peace time challenge, business and government work hand in hand.”
Edwin Morgan, Interim Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “To borrow a phrase, nothing has changed, or at least, very little has. A new leader will be faced with the same political challenges and the same economic realities.
“No deal remains a significant, and growing, concern for businesses, and that cannot be wished away, whoever is in power. When companies and the country need serious, considered decision-making, we have pantomime instead.
“We would ask for politicians to swiftly come to a solution which provides for as smooth an exit as possible, but that feels like a vain hope at the moment.”