Characterized by critics and political observers as an ignominous end of her three years as leader of the Tory Party and captain of the right-wing ship trying to steer the country toward Brexit, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announced her official resignation on Friday morning as she finally admitted defeat.
Though she said in a speech outside 10 Downing Street that she had “done everything” she could “to convince MPs to back” her Brexit deal, “Sadly, I have not been able to do so.”
— Bloomberg (@business) May 24, 2019
Unmoved by the remarks, and noting her disastrous record as prime minister, The New Statesman’s Stephen Bush commented that May “bowed out with the rampant shamelessness that has typified her public statements, and leaves one hell of a mess behind her.”
As CNN reports:
May was forced into making Friday’s announcement after losing the support of her Cabinet, many of whom were fed up with the ongoing turmoil over Brexit.
The last straw for Cabinet ministers appears to have been the latest version of May’s Brexit plan, which she unveiled on Tuesday. In an attempt to win over opposition lawmakers, May offered the House of Commons the chance to vote on a second referendum — a concession that was bitterly opposed by some senior members of her government.
Her fate was sealed by the leadership of the 1922 Committee — which represents the interests of rank-and-file lawmakers in May’s Conservative Party — who threatened to change party rules to allow a vote of no-confidence. May survived an earlier confidence vote in December last year, and under current rules was immune to challenge for another year.
One minister, who spoke with The Daily Beast’s Jamie Ross, characterized her troubled three-year run as prime minister and ultimate failures this way: “She fucked up, then she fucked off.”
According to Ross:
May will leave no lasting legacy. The sole purpose of her leadership was to win domestic support for a deal with the European Union that would allow Britain to leave the bloc in a relatively painless manner. The deal was resoundingly rejected three times and her only answer was to try to get lawmakers to vote on it yet again, with minor tweaks. Her most important supporters, finally sick of living in Groundhog Day, decided enough was enough.
In response to May’s resignation, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn — who earlier this week said in Parliament that May’s time “was over” as he called for a new general election — issued a statement on Friday saying, “Theresa May is right to resign. She’s now accepted what the country’s known for months: she can’t govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrating party.“
“The burning injustices she promised to tackle three years ago are even starker today,” Corbyn added. “The Conservative party has utterly failed the country over Brexit and is unable to improve people’s lives or deal with their most pressing needs.”
Theresa May's legacy:
– 14m in poverty
– 130k homeless children
– 1m foodbank parcels
– 1m disability benefit sanctions
– NHS privatisation
– Brexit shambles
– Hostile environment
A new Tory leader won't make things better. We need a general election now.
— Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) May 24, 2019
Political activist Nikhil Goyal said that “May has been one of the worst PMs in British history. She lives behind a shameful racist and anti-worker legacy.”
With speculation that Boris Johnson, the former right-wing mayor of London, stands the best chance at succeeding May as the Tory’s leader, Corbyn said that whoever the party selects “must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate General Election.”
The Labour Party itself backed that call shortly later:
We need a General Election now to bring the country together and build a fairer society for the many, not the few. pic.twitter.com/rC7M5SlKmg
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) May 24, 2019
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a member of the Labour Party, said that while he didn’t “agree with Theresa May on much,” he had “some sympathy” for her given that hard-line “Brexit extremists” had made negotiating a deal impossible.
“It is totally unacceptable for Britain’s future to be decided by these same people,” Khan said in a statement. “The British people, particularly the next generation, deserve far better than this.”
MP Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the left-wing Green Party, agreed May’s task to deliver a Brexit deal was an impossible one that no prime minister could likely deliver and argued her resignation only clarified the need for a second national referendum on Brexit.
“While May was almost uniquely ill-equipped to be negotiator we needed, truth is she was given impossible job,” Lucas said in a tweet. “Case for #PeoplesVote stronger than ever.”