THE NETHERLANDS/England – Theresa May is stepping down as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Conservative Party. At a press conference on Friday, May said that her decision to resign was made with the country’s best interests in mind. May will step down as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7th. She will continue as Prime Minister until the party chose her successor. It is now up to her successor to finalize the UK’s departure from the European Union, she said.
With the announcement that Theresa May will resign her role as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, her Dutch counterpart spoke in praise of her while focusing on the future of Brexit. “Just expressed my thanks and respect to Theresa May. The United Kingdom and Netherlands are closely linked. The agreement reached between the EU and the United Kingdom of an orderly Brexit is still on the table,” said Prime Minister Mark Rutte on social media on Friday.
May came under increasing fire for her repeated attempts to get a Brexit withdrawal agreement passed by the British House of Commons. Since January three versions of the Brexit deal negotiated between May and the EU were rejected by the British parliamentarians. On Thursday it was announced that a fourth vote on the withdrawal agreement, which was scheduled for Friday, was postponed until next month, NOS reports.
At the press conference May said that she stands by her attempts convince MPs to support the deal. “I believe it was right to persevere, even when the odds against success seemed high”, May said. “But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interest of the country for a new Prime Minister to lead that effort.”
“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit. It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honors the result of the referendum.” She added that this will only be successful if all parties involved are willing to compromise.
The British population voted for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union in a referendum in June 2016. The Brexit was scheduled to happen on March 29th this year. But despite over two years of negotiations, the British parliamentarians had not reached a consensus on a withdrawal agreement. They also did not want to leave the EU with no agreement in place, so an extension was requested.
The other EU Member States agreed to postpone the Brexit until April 12th. When still no consensus had been reached, the UK asked for another postponement. The Brexit is now scheduled for end October.
One consequence of the second postponement was that the United Kingdom had to hastily organize elections for the European Parliament, which are currently ongoing. The Netherlands and the UK voted on Thursday. Due to an error made, non-English EU citizens were unable to vote on Thursday.