UK Prime Minister Theresa May formally steps down as Conservative Party leader

A look at Theresa May's time as Prime Minister

The eight-week-old Brexit Party of Nigel Farage came second, attracting the backing of thousands of Conservative defectors.

May had become the Tory leader and prime minister after the departure of David Cameron in 2016 following British voters' decision to leave the European Union in a referendum.

The Conservative party suffered several setbacks under her leadership: first losing majority in the House of Commons in the 2017 mid-term elections, and later in elections to local bodies, the European Parliament, and on Friday in the Peterborough by-election.

May will remain as acting leader and prime minister for a few weeks while the party picks a successor, who will become the next prime minister.

Nearly a dozen Conservative lawmakers are already jostling to replace her in a contest that formally opens Monday, vowing to succeed where May failed and renegotiate Britain's divorce deal with the European Union.

If the United Kingdom is committed to delivering Brexit; and a proper Brexit, not the bad withdrawal bill that we've got, who are they going to negotiate with?

May 7, 2019: The UK government acknowledges for the first time that the country will definitely take part in the European Parliament elections because there's no chance that a Brexit deal can be approved in time to avoid them. The victor of the party leadership race will automatically become the next prime minister.

A new leader will eventually be announced following a ballot of about 160,000 Conservative members on the week commencing July 22.

"In the most challenging of circumstances, she tried time and time again to deliver an orderly Brexit".

A spokesperson with the Prime Minister's Office told Xinhua Friday that May's formal removal as Conservative Party leader is not expected to be marked by any ceremony or fanfare.

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It leads to the resignations of Brexit Secretary David Davis, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and others who favour a more complete break with the EU.

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 Conservative Party has been badly stung by the emerging Brexit Party, launched just two months ago by veteran Eurosceptic Nigel Farage.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the defeat showed the Tories should be more concerned about Labour, not the Brexit Party. Amber Rudd, a current pensions minister and a Europhile, said, "I think it's outrageous to consider proroguing parliament", citing King Charles I, who shuttered parliament in the 17th century, triggering a civil war.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, another leading contender, said the Peterborough result was a message that "we've got to come back together as a party and work together to get Brexit done".

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to replace May, said the rise of the Brexit Party could open the door to a Corbyn government.

Hardline Brexiteers view it as a mechanism to prevent MPs voting to block a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

Whether it is Johnson, Hunt or one of the other contenders, political experts view Brexit as a poisoned chalice.

The reason I would say that; is because the new European Union Parliament, and everything around it, all the commissioners etcetera, they are all going to have to be appointed between the 2 July, and effectively the 31 October.

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