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British PM May expected to announce date of her departure

Theresa May to bequeath a deeply divided country and a political elite deadlocked over whether or not to leave the EU.

May 24, 2019 01:22 pm | Updated 01:41 pm IST - London

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce the date of her departure on Friday, triggering a contest that will bring a new leader to power who is likely to push for a more decisive Brexit divorce deal.

After a crisis-riven premiership of almost three years, Ms. May is due to meet the chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee to set out a timetable for her departure.

“It would be much tidier if she stays on as caretaker while we go through our processes of electing a leader of the Conservative Party who will then eventually take over as prime minister,” Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Committee, told the BBC . Ms. May will remain in office during the Conservative Party leadership election lasting about six weeks. The contest is likely to start on June 10 after U.S. President Donald Trump's state visit to Britain.

Ms. May, once a reluctant supporter of EU membership who won the top job in the turmoil that followed the 2016 Brexit vote, steps down with her central pledges — to lead the United Kingdom out of the bloc and heal its divisions - unfulfilled.

All the leading contenders to succeed Ms. May want a tougher divorce deal so her departure raises the chances of a confrontation with the EU, which has said it will not renegotiate the Withdrawal Treaty it sealed in November.

Boris Johnson, the face of the official Brexit campaign, is the favourite to succeed Ms. May. Betting markets put a 40 per cent implied probability on Mr. Johnson winning the top job.

Betting markets also tipped Dominic Raab, a Brexit supporter and former Brexit Secretary, with 14 per cent implied probability on his chances. Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt each have a 7 per cent probability while Sajid Javid has a 3 per cent chance.

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