Theresa May formally QUITS as Tory leader

Theresa May formally QUITS as Tory leader firing the starting gun on contest that will see her replaced as PM next month

Theresa May formally quit as Tory leader today, firing the starting gun on what promises to be a bitter succession race.

The PM made her resignation official in a letter to the powerful 1922 committee, which immediately announced that nominations for the top job will open on Monday.

Some 11 candidates have so far publicly said they will seek to replace Mrs May in Downing Street, but they will each need to  secure backing from at least eight MPs to stand.

Mrs May was photographed smiling as she was driven away from No10 earlier – possibly relieved that her ordeal is drawing to a close.

Under the timetable set by the 1922 committee the new Tory leader should be appointed in the week of July 22, at which stage they will take over as PM.

Theresa May was photographed smiling as she was driven away from No10 earlier – possibly relieved that her ordeal is drawing to a close

In a statement, the 1922 committee confirmed that Mrs May had tendered her resignation

In a statement, the 1922 committee said: ‘Following notification from the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, that she has resigned as the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the join acting chairs of the 1922 committee are inviting nominations from those Conservative Members of Parliament who wish to stand for election as the next Party Leader…

‘The Rt Hon Theresa May MP will remain as as Acting Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party until her successor has been announced.’ 

In a symbol of the chaos that has blighted her premiership, Mrs May’s resignation day coincided with the announcement of dire results from the Peterborough by-election. 

In an outcome that will cause panic at Tory HQ, Labour’s Lisa Forbes sneaked home despite recording the lowest winning vote share in modern history – as Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and the Conservatives split their support.

It underlines how Labour could score a general election victory when the two rival parties are squabbling over the same base.

A bitter blame game immediately erupted between Mr Farage and Tory leadership favourite Mr Johnson, who claimed that Brexit Party votes risked ‘delivering Corbyn to No 10’.

Mr Johnson also reiterated his vow to take the UK out of the EU by October 31 at all costs.

But Mr Farage shot back that Mr Johnson could not be trusted as he had voted for Theresa May’s Brexit deal. ‘What does he actually believe in?’ he jibed.

A cheerful Mr Farage paid a visit to Downing Street to hand in a letter to Mrs May listing his Brexit demands.

The missive pointed out that the Brexit Party won recent European elections by a ‘very substantial’ margin – and would have secured a 240-seat Commons majority if it had been a Westminster election.

He highlighted that the party had ‘three simple messages’ – restoring trust in democracy, Brexit on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, and getting their MEPs on to the negotiating team.

The letter said: ‘The electorate have asked for us to come into the negotiating team and we are ready to do so immediately.

‘This is especially the case given the lack of activity and forces, due to the (Tory) leadership contest.’

Mr Farage added: ‘I trust you will agree that the country should not suffer the further uncertainty of having to beg for another delay 31 October.’ 

Nigel Farage said today he was proud of how his Brexit Party came so close to winning Peterborough – and said unless the Tories vote for them at a general election Jeremy Corbyn will be PM


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