Hancock joins Boris Johnson and three others in race to replace May

Clay Curtis
May 25, 2019

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Saturday he is seeking to replace May, joining several others who have announced they will run to become the Conservative party's next leader, and by default, Britain's new prime minister.

With her voice audibly cracking, she said she would leave "with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love", the BBC reported. But an election would be a high risk endeavor for the Conservatives given the Brexit schism in the party and most pollsters say the result would be another hung parliament and most likely a Labour-led coalition government.

Now she has bowed to relentless pressure from her party to quit over her failure to take Britain out of the European Union on the scheduled date of March 29. Her Brexit deal, which she spent the better part of three years negotiating and re-negotiating, has been rejected by lawmakers three times this year.

Theresa May's successor - who will be chosen in a party vote by the end of July - will nearly certainly face an immediate confidence motion in the House of Commons brought by the opposition parties.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he felt bad for May.

"Boris has many, many qualities but I talked to him a few days ago and I thought he had said to me that he was not going for a no-deal exit".

Like Mr Cameron, Mrs May had campaigned to remain, but in office she became a champion of Brexit. Betting markets put a 40 per cent implied probability on Johnson winning the top job.

The Remainer/soft Brexit wing of the party will have an array of candidates to choose from, including Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, and Sajid Javid, the home secretary.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted that he "would like to express my full respect for @theresa_may and for her determination, as Prime Minister, in working towards the #UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU".

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"We may see the election of a euroskeptic prime minister who wants to repudiate the withdrawal agreement and go for no deal or we may even see a new British government that wants to see a closer relationship with the European Union and goes for a second referendum", Varadkar told Ireland's Virgin Media News. "That's not going to happen".

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed May for her "courageous work" in seeking to implement Brexit in the interests of her country while showing respect for Britain's European partners.

The governing party said it would move quickly to try to end the leadership contest before parliament breaks for a summer holiday, a so-called recess which usually falls in late July. May's resignation had been anticipated, but was still a dramatic moment in British politics.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would continue to "do everything it can to ensure there is a good partnership with Britain, an orderly exit, and then continuing good cooperation".

French President Emmanuel Macron urged "rapid clarification" from Britain on what it wants from Brexit. Her government and Brussels had agreed on a withdrawal deal, but United Kingdom lawmakers refused to pass it, with the arrangement to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland being a major bone of contention for British MPs.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced her departure date, after months of crises and humiliation over her Brexit plan. Opinion polls suggest Conservative voters deserting in droves to the single-issue Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage.

She tried again to get her Brexit deal approved, losing by 149 votes.

Conservative lawmakers increasingly see May as an obstacle to Britain's European Union exit, although her replacement will face the same issue: a Parliament deeply divided over whether to leave the European Union, and how close a relationship to seek with the bloc after it does.

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