On 24 May, Prime Minister Theresa May announced her intention to resign as Prime Minister. She will stand down as leader of the Conservative Party on 7 June (after President Trump’s visit and the D-Day commemorations), and as Prime Minister as soon as the Conservative Party has chosen a successor. Her tenure in office had been looking increasingly challenged for some time. The immediate trigger for her resignation was her final attempt to get her Brexit deal done, which included the offer of the possibility of a further referendum. This proved more than her Party could accept, and the Party would have forced her out of office had she not agreed to resign.
The previous day, 23 May, the UK electorate voted in the European Parliament elections. The results were announced on 26 May after polling had closed across the EU. Turnout was slightly up on immediate previous EP elections, but at 37% below the EU average and well below both UK General Election and 2016 Referendum turnout. The results were:
|Share of vote||EP seats|
|Others||2.5%||Plaid Cymru 1,
NI Parties 3
This represents a notable success for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party (which was only publicly launched on 12 April), a very bad result for Labour and a catastrophe for the Conservatives (their worst result in modern democratic history). It also represented a very strong performance for the overtly anti-Brexit parties (Lib Dems, Greens, and Change UK, between them secured over 35% of the vote). The immediate conclusion is that both the main parties have been punished by their electorate specifically for their indecisive stance on Brexit, and the division between those who favour a “pure Brexit” (no deal Brexit unless the EU agrees to a much better deal), and those who favour a further referendum in the hope of reversing the Brexit decision, or indeed an immediate Parliamentary revocation of Article 50, has sharpened in a country that remains deeply divided. But neither “no deal” nor “people’s vote” secured anything close to a clear majority. Both Conservatives and Labour have a lot of thinking to do. In the case of the Conservatives, this will happen during the forthcoming leadership election.
The next Prime Minister…