Europe has claimed the career of yet another Conservative prime minister. After less than three years in office, Theresa May has suffered a catastrophic loss of confidence in her leadership among MPs and cabinet ministers. She has finally faced up to the demands from within her party and announced her resignation.
Indicating her intention to step down, May said she had tried her best to deliver Brexit but accepted that she had not managed to get MPs to agree. She said she was leaving with no ill will, only “gratitude”.
She will stand down as Conservative Party leader on June 7 and the competition to replace her will formally begin the following week – though in reality, it has been underway for some time.
Indeed, May’s departure has been a long time coming. Many speculated that she couldn’t remain long in office after losing her party’s majority in the 2017 general election. In December, when facing a vote of no confidence among her MPs, she promised not to lead her party into the next general election. In March this year, in a bid to persuade more MPs to back the Brexit withdrawal agreement, she promised to leave sooner rather than later.
May’s resilience has been remarkable. But it is also finite. Leaders can only lead when they have followers and too few Tories are now prepared to follow May any longer. May’s premiership was brief but eventful. She fought a general election, faced down an internal party vote of no confidence and won a parliamentary vote of no confidence. She also lost the services of more than 30 ministers, many of whom resigned over Brexit disagreements.