U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday she will step down as head of the country's ruling Conservative Party, but will stay on in her role of Prime Minister for another few weeks, throwing the much-delayed Brexit process deeper into chaos.
In a tearful statement outside Downing Street, May said it was the "honor of my life" to serve as Prime Minister, but conceded her failure to find a way through the country's Brexit deadlock meant it was time for her to step down.
May will will stay on as Prime Minister, however, until her party chooses a successor, which is expected to take at least four to six weeks and will also remain in office when President Donald Trump arrives for his official state visit to the United Kingdom during the first week of June.
"I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back (her Brexit deal) sadly, I have not been able to do so," she said. "It is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new Prime Minister to lead that effort, so I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party Friday the 7th of June so that a successor can be chosen."
"I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honor of my life to hold," May said. "The second female prime minister, but certainly not the last. I do so with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love."
Her departure puts Britain's Brexit process into uncharted territory, which lawmakers bitterly divided as to how, when and if the country can leave the European Union before the recently-extended October 31 deadline.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Prime Minister was right to resign and challenged her party to call fresh national elections.
May's final attempt earlier this week to bring her divided party together, and build support from opposition lawmakers for a deal that would pass through parliament, was immediately rejected for both failing to offer new solutions to the three-year deadlock while simultaneously suggesting the prospect of a second referendum on Britain's EU membership.
That process is just as complicated now, however, as it was when May first took office in the summer of 2016, and there is little assurance that any of her successors will want to pick up where she left off, raising the prospect that a new Prime Minister could lead Britain out of the European Union without a bespoke trading or political agreement.