This Week in Brexit: May finally resigns, leaving deal in limbo

London - It's all over for British Prime Minister Theresa May after she finally gave in to pressure to resign from lawmakers in her Conservative party, mainly eurosceptics who staunchly opposed the withdrawal agreement she negotiated with Brussels.

May's successor as Conservative leader, to be elected by party members over the next two months, will be left to decide the fate of the unpopular Brexit deal, amid calls from the eurosceptics for Britain to leave the European Union without a deal.
- May told lawmakers on Tuesday that they would get "ONE LAST CHANCE" to approve her Brexit deal in a vote in the Commons, parliament's elected main house, in early June. After talks with the main opposition Labour party collapsed last week, she promised a range of concessions in a "new, bold deal," including a parliamentary vote on whether to hold a second referendum on Brexit.
- Senior Conservatives and opposition leaders REJECTED MAY'S OFFER. Influential right-winger Jacob Rees-Mogg, who leads some 80 eurosceptic Conservative lawmakers, said her new proposals were "worse than before and would leave us bound deeply into the EU."
"It is time to leave on WTO terms," Rees-Mogg tweeted, referring to the default position of using World Trade Organization rules in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
- May made another "LAST CHANCE" appeal in a letter to left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday, further angering Conservative eurosceptics. Speaking in parliament later, she warned lawmakers that "division and deadlock" could follow if they again rejected her deal.
- Corbyn said the revised deal was "RIDDLED WITH CONTRADICTIONS" and offered little new. It was also difficult to agree anything with a prime minister who only had "days to go" in office, he added.
May had agreed with senior Conservatives last week to set a timetable to step down as party leader once parliament had held a fourth vote on her deal.
- May was also rocked on Wednesday by the resignation of ANDREA LEADSOM, her leader in parliament and a senior member of her cabinet. Pro-Brexit Leadsom said she was leaving the government because she opposed May's Brexit plan. "I do not believe that we will be a truly sovereign United Kingdom through the deal that is now proposed," she wrote in a resignation letter to May.
- On Thursday, May's EU WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT BILL was unexpectedly absent from her parliamentary business plan for early June, meaning the vote was postponed. Labour's Valerie Vaz told parliament Britain was in "Brexit paralysis."
- Amid rising anticipation, May agreed to STEP DOWN ON JUNE 7 as Conservative leader, accepting on Friday that she had failed to broker a Brexit deal. "It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit," an emotional May said outside Downing Street.
May said it had been the "honour" of her life to serve as prime minister for nearly three years. "[I am] the second female prime minister, but certainly not the last," she said, breaking into tears at the end of her speech.
- In Brussels, European Commission President JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER followed May's resignation speech "without personal joy," his spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said, noting that he "liked and appreciated" working with her. "Theresa May is a woman of courage for whom he has great respect," Andreeva said.
- German Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL also took note of May's resignation announcement "with respect," deputy government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said in Berlin. Merkel always worked with May in a spirit of trust and would continue to do so for as long as May is in office, Fietz said.
May will remain as prime minister until a new Conservative leader is elected by the party's lawmakers and members, a process expected to take up to two months. The new party leader will then succeed her as prime minister.
- Former foreign secretary BORIS JOHNSON, the favourite to succeed May, has already announced his intention to stand and is expected to face competition from a dozen other Conservatives. Pro-Brexit Johnson thanked May for her "stoical service to [the] country and the Conservative Party." He added that Britain should follow May's plea "to come together and deliver Brexit."


Friday, May 24th 2019

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