Published: Sat, June 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Leadership race begins as UK PM May resigns as party leader

Leadership race begins as UK PM May resigns as party leader

UK Prime Minister Theresa May resigns as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7th.

Anti-EU populist Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party failed to win its first seat in Britain's parliament as it lost out to the main opposition Labour Party in a crunch by-election, results on Friday showed.

The government is under pressure from eurosceptic figurehead Nigel Farage, who has called for a "no deal" option and whose newly-formed Brexit Party comfortably topped the European Parliament elections last month.

Richard Tice, chairman of the Brexit Party, said: "We've come here in a matter of just a few days and taken this by-election by storm; yes, the result is a disappointment but Mike Greene is a great candidate and he loves this city and he has said that he will come back and fight again". Now the party will hold a similar contest to replace her.

On the left, Theresa May on the day she became British prime minister and on the right, May pictured on 24 May, 2019.

Mrs May, once a reluctant supporter of European Union membership who emerged from the chaos after the 2016 referendum as prime minister, steps down with her central pledge - to lead Britain out of the bloc and heal the country's divisions - unfulfilled.

Nearly three years since Britain voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union, lawmakers remain at loggerheads over how, when or even whether to leave the EU.

However Labour's vote share fell by more than 17 percentage points from the 2017 general election, while the Conservatives were down by more than 25 percentage points. Further rounds will be held on June 18, 19 and 20 if needed, with the least popular candidate dropping out each time.

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The victor will become Britain's prime minister - but it's unclear for how long.

The final two candidates will meet in a runoff that will be decided by mail by the country's 160,000 Conservative Party members. He champions a tougher stance on Brexit, saying Britain should leave with or without a deal by the new deadline of October 31.

Mr Johnson, a leading campaigner in the 2016 referendum who quit the government a year ago over Mrs May's plan, is among several would-be candidates who say they are willing to do this.

But Environment Secretary Michael Gove, another frontrunner, is open to another Brexit delay, while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said leaving with no deal is "political suicide".

Johnson cleared one hurdle on Friday by fending off a legal action brought by a citizen who accuses him of misconduct in public office for making misleading statements during the 2016 campaign about how much money Britain sends to the EU.

The EU insists it will not reopen the deal.

Some candidates have said they could seek a short further delay to reach a deal. Huq denied the claims, one of which was said to include a 2,500-word dossier of alleged incidents of Jew hatred, saying they are "false and malicious". Since the referendum, lawmakers have struggled to pass a deal through parliament. He was quickly criticized by other contenders, who said that in Britain's democracy, Parliament is sovereign and must not be ignored.

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