UK's May officially quits as party leader, starting succession race

May officially steps down as Tory leader, to stay on as PM until successor is picked

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

May replaced David Cameron in July 2016 after British voters chose to leave the EU.

As it turned out, the insurgent Brexit party, led by right-wing populist Nigel Farage, nearly claimed its first parliamentary seat, gaining 9,801 votes to Labour's 10,484 on a 48 percent turnout.

"For the remainder of her time in office, she will be building on the domestic agenda that she has put at the heart of her premiership", her spokeswoman told reporters.

Eleven Conservative MPs are vying to replace her as party leader and, ultimately, prime minister, according to BBC.

The formal process to decide who will be the next occupant of Number 10 kicks off Monday when nominations open among Conservative MPs wanting to bid for the top job in British politics.

The move will pave the way for a leadership battle for her successor who will try to deliver Brexit after May failed to get her deal through Parliament.

Lawmakers are wary of candidates who support a no-deal Brexit, and the government, propped up by the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party, only holds a slim majority in Parliament. The victor of the election will be announced in the week beginning July 22, and will take over from May as the next prime minister.

Leadership contest frontrunner Johnson warned that the center-right Conservatives "must deliver Brexit by October 31 or we risk Brexit Party votes delivering Corbyn to No 10", referring to leftist Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn getting into Downing Street.

Under the timetable set out by the party high command, it is expected the new leader will be in place in the week beginning July 22, following a postal ballot of the party members.

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Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has emerged as a favorite to win, with his successor at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Hunt, being seen as another hopeful.

Her team has been eager to shape her legacy beyond the Brexit failure, but she bequeaths to her successor a nation where traditional political identities are being eroded by strong beliefs on whether Britain should leave the European Union, and how it should do so.

MPs backed the process for leaving the bloc by triggering Article 50 to end Britain's membership on March 29.

"The EU didn't regard itself as negotiating with the transient British Prime Minister, it regarded itself as negotiating with the United Kingdom government", added Rutter. The prospect poses a dilemma as numerous party's supporters backed Brexit.

The main beneficiaries have been Farage's Brexit party, which advocates a hardline Brexit, and the Liberal Democrats, who have taken up a pro-Remain platform.

Some Conservative lawmakers and activists fear the party is in the grips of an existential crisis and could be permanently sundered by Brexit - easily split in two.

FILE - Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is running to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, leaves his home in London, May 30, 2019.

Mrs May spent her last day as Tory leader in her Maidenhead constituency, with the Peterborough by-election defeat a stark illustration of the difficulties she has faced and which will now trouble her successor.

"I have done everything I can to convince MP's to back that deal".

May 21, 2019: May offers a concession to lawmakers, giving them the chance to vote on whether to hold a new referendum on the country's membership in the European Union - but only if they back her thrice-rejected Brexit agreement.

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