British Prime Minister Theresa May will step down on Friday amid widespread discontent, even among her Parliament allies, over her latest Brexit offer, which included a vote on whether to hold a second referendum on leaving the European Union, The Times reported Thursday.
The beleaguered premier is in the last throes of a tumultuous term focused all-but exclusively on guiding her fractured country out of the European Union. But three overwhelming rejections by parliament of the terms she struck with the other 27 nations last year have forced Britain to miss the original March 29 departure date and plead for more time.
According to the report, May’s allies believe she will declare her resignation during a meeting with Graham Brady, chairman of a committee that supervises the election and ejection of leaders in the Conservative Party, which May has led since 2016.
May’s successor as party leader will be elected in a two-stage process that will likely take four to six weeks, the report said. Two candidates will eventually face a ballot of 125,000 members of the party.
The field of candidates to succeed May is led by former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, a divisive figure who enjoys relatively strong public support.
Anxious members of May’s party met behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss changes to the rules that would let them vote no-confidence in her leadership in the days to come.
Her woes were made worse when Andrea Leadsom — one of the strongest Brexit backers in the cabinet — resigned from her post as the government’s representative in parliament over May’s handling of the slowly unfolding crisis.
“I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the (2016 Brexit) referendum results,” Leadsom said in her resignation letter.
In her response, May thanked Leadsom for her “passion, drive and sincerity,” but took issue with her assessment of the government’s Brexit strategy.
“I do not agree with you that the deal which we have negotiated with the European Union means that the United Kingdom will not become a sovereign country,” May said.
May is now paying the price for failing to deliver on the wishes of voters who chose by a narrow margin in 2016 to break their uneasy four-decade involvement in the European integration project.
May has already promised to step down no matter the outcome of her fourth attempt to ram her version of Brexit through parliament in early June.
But even that sacrifice — and a package of sweeteners unveiled Wednesday that included a chance for lawmakers to get a second Brexit referendum — failed to win hearts and minds.
Her Conservatives are also set to get thumped Thursday in European Parliament elections in which the brand new Brexit Party of anti-EU populist Nigel Farage is running away with the polls.
A YouGov survey Wednesday showed Farage’s party claiming 37 percent support.
The pro-EU Liberal Democrats were second with 19%. The main opposition Labour Party was at 13% and May’s Conservatives were lagging in fifth place with just seven percent.
“If we win these elections and win them well, we have a democratic mandate,” Farage said Thursday.