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UK’s May says she’ll quit as Conservative leader June 7

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Published May 24. 2019 12:46PM

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.

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.

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