LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May announced she will step down if MPs approve her Brexit deal.
The embattled Conservative leader has faced growing calls to resign over the political crisis that has gripped Britain for months, and which forced her to ask the EU last week to delay Brexit by a fortnight.
With many MPs now pressing for a longer extension or even to reverse the whole process, May has made one last attempt to secure support for the divorce deal she has struck with Brussels.
She told MPs in her Conservative party on Wednesday that she would not “stand in the way” of new leadership for the “second phase of Brexit negotiations”.
May has in the past won praise for her determination and ability to survive an extraordinary period of political turmoil since the Brexit vote but has now come under fire over her handling of Britain’s messy departure from the EU.
“People must now support the deal and move us forward,” she said.
But May’s approach to the endgame – refusing to accept that MPs did not like her deal and delaying Brexit to keep trying to push it through — has prompted deep frustration and anger on all sides.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said her pledge to stand down “shows once and for all that her chaotic Brexit negotiations have been about party management, not principles or the public interest”.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the deal was “so bad that the PM has to promise to resign to get it through”, adding that May’s promise would “make an already bad project even worse”.
May has all but lost control of her government, with ministers from both the pro- and anti-Brexit camps joining scores of Conservative MPs in defying the government in parliamentary votes.
At the weekend, after another humiliating Brussels summit, British newspapers were full of reports of moves by her colleagues to oust her.
Despite having campaigned to stay in the EU, May then embraced the cause once she took office with the mantra “Brexit means Brexit”.
Her promise to leave the EU’s institutions and end free movement of workers delighted eurosceptic MPs, but caused dismay among many pro-Europeans.
The splits in her Conservative party became a serious problem after she called a snap election in June 2017 and ended up losing her parliamentary majority.
She was forced to strike a deal with Northern Ireland’s pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and since then has struggled to keep her party and its allies together.