UK’s Theresa May Formally Steps Down as Conservative Leader

June 7, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

Prime Minister Theresa May officially stepped down as Tory leader on Friday, marking the end of a three-year tenure that has been embroiled in the tumultuous Brexit process.

Conservative politicians can now formally submit their bids to become the next party leader. The nomination process ends on June 10, and the winner is expected to be announced in mid-July. May will continue to serve as Prime Minister until her successor is elected.

“Obviously there is some very important business to then continue for the new prime minister, not least the Brexit process,” Antony Phillipson, the UK's North American trade commissioner and consul general, told Cheddar in an interview Friday.

So far, nearly a dozen Tories are vying to lead the party.

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.

Late last month, May announced that she would resign on June 7, submitting to intense pressure over the UK's failure to negotiate its withdrawal from the European Union.

"I have done everything I can to convince MP's to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so," May said during an emotional address outside 10 Downing Street on May 24. "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."

May was especially criticized by hard-line, pro-Brexit supporters within her own party.

“Today the worst prime minister in modern history officially steps down as leader of the Conservative Party. After being punished at the polls for three years of horrific failure, the Tories now have a chance to elect a leader with courage and vision - the opposite of Theresa May!” the pro-Brexit Leave Campaign, said on twitter.

Phillipson also told Cheddar that the British civil service remains steady, despite the lack of a functioning head of government.

“We focus on the substance not the personalities,” he said. “It is one of the strengths I think of the UK system, that the civil service delivers the business of the government of the day and provides continuity during times like this.”