Race for Number 10 kicks off as May ends 3-yr reign

The countdown to Theresa May’s reign as Britain’s Prime Minister started Friday when she resigned as leader of the governing Conservative Party.

May, the second female prime minister in British history after Margaret Thatcher, will remain as caretaker prime minister until her successor is chosen at the end of July.

The formal process to decide who will be the next occupant of Number 10 kicks off Monday when nominations open among Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) wanting to bid for the top job in British politics. The winner of the party leadership race will automatically become the next prime minister.

May’s three-year reign as leader of the Conservative Party ended with a behind-the-scenes exchange of letters between her and the 1922 Committee, the body that represents backbench MPs.

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.

May became Britain’s prime minister in 2016 after her predecessor David Cameron resigned following a referendum in which 51.9 per cent of voters were in favour of leaving the European Union (EU) after more than 40 years of membership.

The decision to leave the EU came as a shock to the political establishment convinced that it would be a repeat of a 1975 referendum when people voted by a large margin to keep the country’s link to Brussels.

It quickly put May on a collision course with politicians in the Parliament on what kind of Brexit to pursue.

With more than 400 so-called “remainers” among the 650 Westminster MPs, it soon became apparent that May’s job of bringing Britain out of the EU had become a mission impossible.

Although she had voted to remain, May insisted from day one of her tenure at Downing Street that the will of the British people must be respected.

MPs backed the process for leaving the bloc by triggering Article 50 to end Britain’s membership on March 29. Twice the deadline has been extended with the clock now ticking towards October 31.

A deal May brokered after intensive negotiations with Brussels spectacularly crashed in the House of Commons when it was defeated by a margin of 230, the biggest ever rejection in British political history.

She made two further unsuccessful attempts to win parliamentary approval, with many of her own MPs joining opposition politicians to reject her deal. –Xinhua

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