After less than three years of trying—and failing—to make Brexit happen, British prime minister Theresa May announced her resignation. She will step down as Conservative party leader on June 7, and prime minister when a replacement is chosen by party members.
Pressure had mounted on May to step down even sooner, after she announced a new plan earlier this month to put her EU withdrawal agreement to a vote in Parliament for a fourth time. She’s faced a backlash from her own party, with a record number of cabinet resignations during her tenure; from the opposition Labour party who broke off Brexit talks with her; and from pro- and anti-Brexit voters alike. Her Conservative party has suffered at elections since her premiership began, when she took over from David Cameron. Crucially, she failed to secure a Brexit deal before the original deadline of March 29.
She’ll resign just after Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK. A contest for the new Conservative party leader, and prime minister, will begin the week of June 10; May will stay on in a caretaker position until that person is selected.
The pound rose on news of May’s departure. As a result the British currency ended a record losing streak against the euro, at least at the time of writing.
But any gains are likely to be small and short lived. If a more staunch Brexit supporter becomes prime minister, it’s possible the UK could leave the European Union without a close trading relationship or any transition arrangements. Such an outcome would dent the UK economy and lead to more weakness in the currency. The UK currently has until the end of October to finalize an exit deal from the EU.
After her short statement, May walked back into Downing Street, after nearly breaking down into tears, saying she had “enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.”