Brexit Party fails to win first seat in United Kingdom by-election

Clay Curtis
June 12, 2019

Theresa May has formally stepped down as leader of Britain's governing Conservative Party, officially triggering a leadership contest that has effectively been running for several weeks.

"[She] will remain as acting leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party until her successor has been announced".

Dominic Raab, who resigned as Brexit secretary a year ago over Mrs May's deal, said the result "shows yet again that we must get on and deliver Brexit by the end of October".

But Labour's successful campaign to get its vote out in Peterborough, which backed Brexit by 61% to 39% in the 2016 referendum, foiled its bid to win a first seat in the British parliament.

May, once a reluctant supporter of European Union membership who emerged from the chaos after the 2016 referendum as Prime Minister, steps down with her central pledge - to lead Britain out of the bloc and heal the country's divisions - unfulfilled.

She spent the day in her constituency west of London.

May will remain in office as a powerless caretaker prime minister until the leadership election is concluded likely late next month.

They will go to hustings around the country to convince Conservative Party members to vote for them in the final ballot.

Nearly a dozen Conservative lawmakers are already jostling to replace May in a contest that formally opens Monday, vowing to succeed where she failed and renegotiate Britain's divorce deal with the European Union.

The process of selecting May's successor is expected to take until the end of July.

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Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, one of the 11 declared candidates in the race to replace her, warned there would be "no future" for the party unless Brexit is resolved.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to replace May, said the rise of the Brexit Party could open the door to a Corbyn government.

Labour Party candidate Lisa Forbes reacts after winning the Peterborough by-election at the KingsGate Centre in Peterborough, Britain, June 6, 2019. May will continue to serve as Prime Minister until her successor is elected.

Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and others have all expressed that they seek specific changes to Withdrawal Agreement (the Irish backstop in particular), and potential "no-deal" if renegotiations fail.

Over the following days more than 300 Conservative MPs at Westminster will vote on the long list of names, using a process of elimination until only two names are left. Will her replacement be able to finally deliver Brexit?

The timing is very tight, and actually very inconvenient for any Prime Minister now to try and deliver Brexit.

The letter to Mrs May said that the Brexit Party has a "democratic mandate" on Brexit. "I think they are the really big losers here", he added.

Both Labour and the Conservatives are torn between those who want a complete break with the European Union, a so-called "hard Brexit"; those who want to leave the European Union but maintain a considerable level of cooperation with the organisation, a so-called "soft Brexit", and those who want to stay in the bloc.

None of them have actually said that the United Kingdom is going to ditch the withdrawal bill, start again, try and do a better deal, because that's of course what the Tory Party wants, and they are actually walking away from this aspect of a no deal Brexit, which would be the most beneficial option for the United Kingdom to actually make Brexit mean Brexit.

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