On May 24th, British Prime Minister Theresa May resigned from her post and as Conservative Party Leader.
“Ever since I first stepped through the door behind me as PM I have striven to make the UK work not just for a privileged few but for everyone and to honour the result of the referendum,” the Conservative Party leader said.
She will officially depart her post on June 7th.
May’s entire resignation speech, which ended in her tearing up is the following:
“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.
For many years the great humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton – who saved the lives of hundreds of children by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia through the Kindertransport – was my constituent in Maidenhead. At another time of political controversy, a few years before his death, he took me to one side at a local event and gave me a piece of advice. He said: ‘Never forget that compromise is not a dirty word. Life depends on compromise.’ He was right.
As we strive to find the compromises we need in our politics – whether to deliver Brexit, or to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland – we must remember what brought us here. Because the referendum was not just a call to leave the EU but for profound change in our country. A call to make the United Kingdom a country that truly works for everyone. 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. This is what a decent, moderate and patriotic Conservative government, on the common ground of British politics, can achieve – even as we tackle the biggest peacetime challenge any government has faced.
I know that the Conservative party can renew itself in the years ahead. That we can deliver Brexit and serve the British people with policies inspired by our values. Security; freedom; opportunity. Those values have guided me throughout my career.
But the unique privilege of this office is to use this platform to give a voice to the voiceless, to fight the burning injustices that still scar our society. That is why I put proper funding for mental health at the heart of our NHS long-term plan. It is why I am ending the postcode lottery for survivors of domestic abuse. It is why the Race Disparity Audit and gender pay reporting are shining a light on inequality, so it has nowhere to hide. And that is why I set up the independent public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower – to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten.
Because this country is a union. Not just a family of four nations. But a union of people – all of us. Whatever our background, the colour of our skin, or who we love. We stand together. And together we have a great future.
Our politics may be under strain, but there is so much that is good about this country. So much to be proud of. So much to be optimistic about. 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 new UK prime minister is to be selected by mid-July.
Tory leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said Theresa May was right to resign and called for an immediate general election.
“The prime minister is right to have resigned. She has now accepted what the country has known for months: she cannot govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrating party.
The burning injustices she promised to tackle three years ago are even starker today.
The Conservative party has utterly failed the country over Brexit and is unable to improve people’s lives or deal with their most pressing needs.
Parliament is deadlocked and the Conservatives offer no solutions to the other major challenges facing our country.
The last thing the country needs is weeks of more Conservative infighting followed by yet another unelected prime minister.
Whoever becomes the new Conservative Leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate general election.”
Many others paid tribute to Theresa May.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that May’s job was made impossible by “Brexit extremists” and that the government should revoke Article 50 and give the British people the final say.
Theresa May's job was made impossible by Brexit extremists in the Conservative Party. It's totally unacceptable for Britain’s future to be decided by these same people – people deserve better.
Parliament should revoke Article 50 & give the British public the final say on Brexit. pic.twitter.com/M5GohF8FG2
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) May 24, 2019
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s taoiseach, paid tribute to May, describing her as “principled and honourable”.
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) May 24, 2019
A very dignified statement from @theresa_may. Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) May 24, 2019
I want to pay tribute to the PM today. Delivering Brexit was always going to be a huge task, but one she met every day with courage & resolve. NHS will have an extra £20bn thanks to her support, and she leaves the country safer and more secure. A true public servant.
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) May 24, 2019
Nigel Farage said that the Conservative party must stop misjudging the pro-Brexit mood of the population or die, said he felt bad for May.
It is difficult not to feel for Mrs May, but politically she misjudged the mood of the country and her party. Two Tory leaders have now gone whose instincts were pro-EU. Either the party learns that lesson or it dies.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 24, 2019
The EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michael Barnier expressed his tribute.
— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) May 24, 2019
BBC’s Europe Editor Katya Adler tweeted that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker described Mrs May as a woman “of great courage” and that her departure brought him “no personal joy.”
Finally, former British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his respect and said that he hoped that “the spirit of compromise is continued.”
Strong and brave speech by a Prime Minister driven by duty and service… she should be thanked for her tireless efforts on behalf of the country. Full statement below. pic.twitter.com/4XpEZIzrxh
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) May 24, 2019