Cascade Commentary

Who will be the next leader of the Conservative Party? Theresa May resigns sparking a new leadership contest

24 May 2019

Theresa May has today announced her resignation as of 7 June 2019 following a turbulent three years as Prime Minister. May's time in office has been dominated by negotiations surrounding the UK's vote to leave the European Union (EU) as Parliament remains unable to reach a consensus as to the way forward.

As a Remain voter, May came under significant pressure as she tried to unite her party while showing a hard line for delivering Brexit. In a heartfelt statement this morning, May said that she felt she had tried her best to deliver Brexit but conceded defeat and "deep regret" that she has been unable to do so. 

Her time in office has been marred by a series of troublesome decisions, including her decision to call a General Election in 2017 having repeatedly stated that she would not do so, which led to a reduced majority for the Conservative party in Parliament. She faced the biggest ever government defeat earlier this year in a vote on her Brexit withdrawal agreement, losing by a 230 margin, and has been unable to garner support since despite further attempts to do so. 

While many share disappointment for May given the difficulty of the task at hand, the country nows looks forward and awaits the appointment of the new leader of the Conservative party as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. A statement from the Conservative Party Chairman and the Backbench 1922 committee has indicated that nominations for a new leader will commence from 10 June 2019. Conservative party MP's will then whittle down the options through a series of votes to leave a choice between two candidates for party members to then vote for the new leader in July 2019 ahead of Parliament's summer recess. 

So far, three Conservative Party members have announced their intention to run for the post including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, although it is expected that many more will put themselves forward. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an immediate general election in the aftermath of the appointment while Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her worry at the prospect of an even more hardline Brexit path now being adopted with the potential for a very concerning "No Deal". 

In her resignation, May called for the next leader of the Conservative Party to continue in a spirit of compromise. Alongside the rest of the country, we will continue to watch closely as new leadership candidates put themselves forward for the post. 

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