LONDON: UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Friday that she will step down as the leader of the ruling Conservative Party on June 7, paving the way for a leadership battle to appoint Britain's next Prime Minister.
May, who has come under increased pressure from her own party to announce her departure date amid internal schisms over her handling of Brexit, gave a speech outside Downing Street after meeting with her government's Chief Whip Julian Smith, the lawmaker in charge of trying to keep party unity in Parliament.
Fighting tears, May said: "I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success were high. 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.
"So I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on 7th of June, so that a successor can be chosen, I've agreed... that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week.
"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 honours the referendum. To lead, he or she will have to find consensus in parliament where I have not."
May's Brexit withdrawal bill has been rejected three times in the House of Commons.
Her voice croaked as she ended her speech saying: "I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold. The second female prime minister, but certainly not the last.
"I do so with no ill will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love."
She took over from David Cameron when he resigned the day after the Brexit referendum in June 2016.
May's announcement came 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.
A number of May's Cabinet members and colleagues paid tribute to her following the development.
Amber Rudd, who has served as May's Home Secretary and Work and Pensions Secretary, said she had shown "great courage".
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called her a "true public servant".