Sunday, 15 September, 2019

Conservative Party's May quits, Opposition Labour defeats Brexit Party

May officially steps down as Tory leader, to stay on as PM until successor is picked Theresa May steps down as Conservative Party leader
Deanna Wagner | 12 June, 2019, 08:25

May's three-year reign as leader of the Conservative Party ended with a behind-the-scenes exchange of letters between her and the 1922 Committee, the body that represents backbench MPs.

"Theresa May will remain as Acting leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party until her successor has been announced", the press release specifies.

Under the timetable set out by the party high command, it is expected the new leader will be in place in the week beginning July 22, following a postal ballot of the party members.

Forbes, who backed remaining in the European Union in 2016 but said she respects the result of the referendum, said May's successor should restart government talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn which failed to find a way through the deadlock on Brexit.

The final day of her stint at the Tory helm was marked by defeat at the ballot box, as the party slumped into third place in the Peterborough by-election behind both Labour and Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

Ever since Britain voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, the other 27 nations in the bloc have presented a united front in negotiations, finally agreeing late previous year to a detailed divorce plan with May's government.

May made her first splash by telling their annual conference to change the Conservatives' image as "the nasty party" if they wanted to unseat then-popular Labour premier Tony Blair.

The nominations process for the new leader will be completed on Monday, with candidates requiring the support of eight MPs to enter the race.

New party rules created to speed up the race means that number could be reduced to six by Monday.

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They will go through the usual theatre performance of saying that the United Kingdom can't have another extension, but in fact I believe that they will probably grant another one, because I just don't think that any of the candidates that are going to replace Prime Minister May potentially are really committed to a proper, clean Brexit.

But Michel Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, said on Friday any new prime minister will still face the problem of what to do with the Irish border, in order to secure frictionless trade, after Britain leaves the bloc.

Front runners include former London Mayor and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, and Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The first phase will see party MPs vote in several rounds from next week until the candidates are whittled down to two.

Some Conservative lawmakers and activists fear the party is in the grips of an existential crisis and could be permanently sundered by Brexit - easily split in two.

The main beneficiaries have been Farage's Brexit party, which advocates a hardline Brexit, and the Liberal Democrats, who have taken up a pro-Remain platform.

"If we don't leave and leave with a clean Brexit on the 31st of October, the Brexit Party will power on".

May will keep the keys to Downing Street until her successor is elected when she will retire as prime minister and hand over the reins of power.

The vote is then thrown open to the Tories' 160,000 members who spend a month deciding who will lead their party - and thus be the next prime minister.

Leader Richard Leonard has said he supports the policy and is confident members will back the plan.