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Theresa May officially stands down as Tory leader after being forced out over Brexit

3 min read

Theresa May will officially stand down as Conservative Party leader on Friday after nearly three years in the job.

She will exchange letters with the interim chairs of the 1922 Commitee of Tory backbenchers confirming that she is giving up the role, but will stay on in an interim basis until her successor is elected.

Mrs May will also remain Prime Minister until the new Conservative leader is in place, which is expected to be at the end of July.

She fired the starting gun on the Tory leadership race two weeks ago when she announced outside Number 10 that she was quitting over her failure to deliver Brexit.

"I tried three times I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success seemed high," she said. "But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interest of the country for a new Prime Minister to lead that effort."

In a clear warning to her successor not to pursue a no-deal Brexit, Mrs May said "compromise is not a dirty word".

"It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit," she said. "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."

Nominations for Mrs May's successor will close on Monday, with the first round of voting by MPs taking place on 13 June.

Following a hustings involving the remaining candidates on 17 June, the second ballot will take place on 18 June.

Up to five MPs' ballots are expected to take place, with the two candidates left standing announced on 20 June.

They will then go forward to a ballot of Tory Party members, with the winner expected to be announced by 22 July.

Speaking yesterday, Charles Walker, acting co-chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, said candidates have been warned not to drop out of the race if they make it through to the final ballot.

He spoke out amid claims some of those running would rather quit than face a run-off against bookies' favourite Boris Johnson.

Theresa May was elected unopposed in 2016 after Andrea Leadsom pulled out despite making it through to the final stage of the contest.

But Mr Walker said: "We've had a conversation with those who have indicated they are going to put their papers in.

"There is a great recognition across the parliamentary party that this does need to go to the membership this time. Potential candidates are fully aware of that and hopefully relishing the prospect."


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