British prime minister Theresa May has bowed to intense pressure from her own party and named 7 June as the day she will step aside as Conservative leader, drawing her turbulent three-year premiership to a close.
She made the announcement after a meeting with Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee – which was prepared to trigger a second no-confidence vote in her leadership if she refused to resign.
May’s fate was sealed after a 10-point “new Brexit deal” , announced in a speech on Tuesday, infuriated Tory backbenchers and many of her own cabinet – while falling flat with the Labour MPs it was meant to persuade.
The leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, resigned on Wednesday , rather than present the Brexit bill to parliament.
A string of other cabinet ministers had also expressed concerns, including Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, Chris Grayling and David Mundell.
In particular, they rejected May’s promise to give MPs a vote on a second referendum as the Brexit bill passed through parliament, and implement the result – which they felt came too close to endorsing the idea.
The prime minister will remain in Downing Street, to shoulder the blame for what are expected to be dire results for her party at Thursday’s European elections – and to host Donald Trump when he visits.
The 1922 Committee will set out the terms of a leadership contest, to kick off on 7 June, which is expected to last perhaps six weeks.