Theresa May officially steps down as Tory leader

Theresa May officially steps down as Tory leader

The final straw came when compromises offered to attract more support for the Brexit deal failed to sway opposition politicians and enraged members of her own party.

May became Britain's prime minister in 2016 after her predecessor David Cameron resigned following a referendum in which 51.9 percent of voters were in favor of leaving the European Union (EU) after more than 40 years of membership.

The Peterborough election saw the Tories slump to third place, behind victors Labour and the Brexit Party, in a seat which had traditionally been a Conservative-Labour marginal.

She will remain in Downing Street as Prime Minister and acting Conservative Party leader during the leadership contest until a successor is chosen.

The nominations process for the new leader will be completed on Monday, with candidates requiring the support of eight MPs to enter the race.

The government is under pressure from euroskeptic figurehead Nigel Farage, who has called for a "no deal" option and whose newly-formed Brexit Party comfortably topped the European Parliament elections last month.

A new prime minister is expected to be in place by the end of July, before MPs take their summer holidays.

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.

The Conservative leadership contest risks deepening the rift in the party over when, how or even if to leave the European Union - with a few of the almost dozen contenders ruling out serving in a future cabinet - if they are vanquished and lose out to a rival.

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Earlier this week, the ruling party overhauled its leadership election rules in a bid to speed up the selection process and prevent too many candidates from standing.

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.

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

Boris Johnson, the bookies' favourite to inherit the Tory crown, also used the defeat to forward his campaign.

The Conservative Party has been badly stung by the emerging Brexit Party, launched just two months ago by veteran Eurosceptic Nigel Farage.

Once the victor of the leadership contest is announced, May will head to Buckingham Palace to tell the Queen she is handing over the job.

"Despite differing opinions across our city, the fact that the Brexit Party have been rejected here in Peterborough shows that the politics of division will not win", Forbes said in her victory speech. "I look back and I think I wish I hadn't done that", he said.

British PM contender Jeremy Hunt. "It is now clear to me that it is in the best interest of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort".

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