25, May 2019
Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an “immediate general election” after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation in the aftermath a deadlock with parliament over her negotiated Brexit deal with the European Union.
Corbyn said in a tweet on Friday that May was “right to resign” as prime minister and whoever replaced her as leader of the Conservative Party had to call an election.
“Theresa May is right to resign. She’s now accepted what the country’s known for months: she can’t govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrating party,” Corbyn said. “Whoever becomes the new Tory leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate General Election.”
In an emotional statement outside Downing Street on Friday, the British premier confirmed her resignation on June 7, following a cabinet revolt over her Brexit plan and the repeated delay of the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB).
In an online statement, Corbyn also gave a scathing account of the current state of affairs in Britain and stressed the need for a snap general election.
“The Conservative Party has utterly failed the country over Brexit and is unable to improve people’s lives or deal with their most pressing needs. Parliament is deadlocked and the Conservatives offer no solutions to the other major challenges facing our country,” the opposition Labour Party leader said.
“Whoever becomes the new Conservative leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate General Election,” he added
“The last thing the country needs is weeks of more Conservative infighting followed by yet another unelected Prime Minister,” Corbyn concluded.
May’s resignation comes as Britain’s looming departure from the 28-member bloc looks even more difficult, with some suggesting a hard or “no-deal” Brexit is now almost inevitable.
The leading contenders to succeed the British premier all favor a tougher divorce deal although the EU has ruled out the renegotiation of the WAB, which was sealed in November.
Key reactions to May’s resignation
The European Union said the resignation failed to change the bloc’s position on the Brexit withdrawal deal agreed with Britain.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted May’s decision “without personal joy,” a spokeswoman said, adding that the council of EU leaders has “set out its position” on the Brexit deal.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said in a tweet that he “would like to express my full respect for @theresa_may and for her determination, as Prime Minister, in working towards the #UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU.”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned that May’s resignation is fraught with dangers for Ireland because her successor could take Britain out of the EU without a deal.
“British politics is consumed by Brexit and will be consumed by Brexit for a very long time. It means that we now enter a new phase when it comes to Brexit, and a phase that may be a very dangerous one for Ireland,” Varadkar said.
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed May for her “courageous work” in seeking to implement Brexit in the interests of her country while showing respect for Britain’s European partners.
But the Elysee said in a statement that “the principles of the EU will continue to apply, with the priority on the smooth functioning of the EU, and this requires a rapid clarification. At a time of an important choice, votes of rejection that do not offer an alternative project will lead to an impasse.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted May’s decision “with respect,” and said they shared a “good and trusting” working relationship.
Pledging to keep working with May in the same spirit as long as she is in office, Merkel noted Berlin “wishes to maintain close cooperation and a close relationship with the British government.”
Declining to comment on how the resignation could affect Brexit, Merkel said “the development depends essentially on domestic political developments in Britain.”
US President Donald Trump, who had repeatedly criticized May in recent months for her handling of Brexit, said he felt sorry for the British prime minister after three years of turmoil surrounding her country’s “Brexit” from the European Union.
“I feel badly for Theresa. I like her very much. She is a good woman,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn as he prepared to set off on a trip to Japan. “She’s a good woman. She worked very hard. She’s very strong.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the EU would never reopen negotiations on the Brexit divorce deal, regardless of who succeeds May.
“The withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation,” Rutte told a news conference.
Madrid warned that a no-deal Brexit appeared almost inevitable.
“Under these circumstances, a hard Brexit appears to be a reality that is near impossible to stop,” Spanish government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa told reporters, adding that the British government and parliament would be “solely responsible for a no-deal exit (from the EU) and its consequences”.