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UK's May to Resign as of June 7        05/24 06:40

   Theresa May announced Friday that she will step down as U.K. Conservative 
Party leader on June 7, admitting defeat in her attempt to take Britain out of 
the European Union and sparking a contest to become the country's next prime 
minister.

   LONDON (AP) -- Theresa May announced Friday that she will step down as U.K. 
Conservative Party leader on June 7, admitting defeat in her attempt to take 
Britain out of the European Union and sparking a contest to become the 
country's next prime minister.

   She will stay as caretaker prime minister until the new leader is chosen, a 
process likely to take several weeks. The new Conservative leader will become 
prime minister without the need for a general election, and will take up the 
task of trying to secure Britain's exit from the EU.

   Her voice breaking, May said in a televised statement outside 10 Downing St. 
that she would soon be leaving a job that it has been "the honor of my life to 
hold."

   May became prime minister the month after Britons voted in June 2016 to 
leave the European Union, and her premiership has been consumed by the attempt 
to deliver on that verdict.

   Now she has bowed to relentless pressure from her party to quit over her 
failure to take Britain out of the EU on the scheduled date of March 29. 
Britain is currently due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, but Parliament has yet to 
approve divorce terms.

   "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," May 
said.

   "I have done my best to do that. ... 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."

   Multiple contenders are already jockeying to replace her and take up the 
challenge of securing Britain's EU exit. The early front-runner is Boris 
Johnson, a former foreign secretary and strong champion of Brexit.

   Conservative lawmakers increasingly see May as an obstacle to Britain's EU 
exit, although her replacement will face the same issue: a Parliament deeply 
divided over whether to leave the EU, and how close a relationship to seek with 
the bloc after it does.

   May spent more than a year and a half negotiating an exit agreement with the 
EU, only to see it rejected three times by Britain's Parliament.

   Pressure on May reached breaking point this week as House of Commons Leader 
Andrea Leadsom quit and several Cabinet colleagues expressed doubts about the 
bill she planned to put before Parliament in a fourth attempt to secure 
Parliament's backing for her Brexit blueprint.

   Leadsom, another likely contender to replace May, joined colleagues in 
paying tribute to the departing leader. She tweeted that May's "dignified 
speech" had been "an illustration of her total commitment to country and duty. 
She did her utmost, and I wish her all the very best."

   Johnson, whose relentless criticism helped push May out of the door, 
tweeted: "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."

   But Johnson, or any other successor, will face a tough challenge to unite a 
country and a Parliament still deeply divided over the country's relationship 
with Europe.

   The next British leader is likely to be a staunch Brexiteer, who will try to 
renegotiate the divorce deal, and if that fails to leave the bloc without an 
agreement on departure terms.

   Most businesses and economists think that would cause economic turmoil and 
plunge Britain into recession. Parliament has voted to rule out a no-deal 
Brexit, though it remains the legal default option.

   European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker praised May as "a woman of 
courage" for whom he has great respect.

   EU spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Juncker will "equally respect and 
establish working relations" with any new British leader.

   But the bloc insists it will not renegotiate the Brexit deal.

   Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted that the "agreement reached between 
the EU and the United Kingdom for an ordered Brexit remains on the table."

   Angela Merkel's spokeswoman, Martina Fietz, said the German chancellor noted 
May's decision "with respect" and would continue to work closely with her 
successor for "an orderly exit."

   In an emotional departure speech, with close aides and her husband Philip 
looking on, May said she was Britain's "second female prime minister but 
certainly not the last."

   She said she was leaving "with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring 
gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love."


(CZ)

 
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