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Theresa May resigns as UK prime minister amid Brexit crisis

David Reid
: Prime Minister-in-waiting, Theresa May waves as she arrives for a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street on July 12, 2016 in London, England.

British Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled a timetable for her departure as leader on Friday morning, drawing her turbulent three-year premiership to an abrupt end.

In an emotional speech outside 10 Downing Street, May said she had "done everything" she could to convince MPs to back the withdrawal agreement she had negotiated with the European Union but had ultimately failed to reach a consensus among lawmakers.

"I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success seemed high, but 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," May said.

"I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honor of my life to hold. 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," May said.

May will step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7, with a leadership contest set to take place the following week. She will continue as an acting prime minister until a new leader is in place.

On three occasions, U.K. lawmakers have refused to vote in favor of May's much-maligned Brexit deal, leading to open challenges to her premiership from within her own party.

With no Brexit withdrawal arrangement agreed, the prospect of the U.K. suffering a disorderly exit from the European Union now appears to be a more likely outcome. Britain and Northern Ireland's official departure date from the European Union is October 31, 2019.

The process of selecting May's replacement will now begin with Conservative lawmaker and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson heavily tipped as her probable successor.

May's premiership has lasted around three years after she won the race to succeed David Cameron, becoming the U.K.'s second female leader after Margaret Thatcher.

She began the official process of withdrawing the U.K. from the European Union by triggering Article 50 in March 2017.

The following month, May announced a snap general election with the aim of strengthening her hand in Brexit negotiations. That move backfired as the number of Conservative Party MPs (members of parliament) actually fell, forcing her government to operate on a confidence and supply deal, securing votes from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland.

Her template to exit the European Union ultimately failed to satisfy lawmakers from across the political spectrum and put in place a sequence of events that has seen her step down.

The daughter of a vicar, May attended Oxford University where she read Geography.

The 62-year-old was first elected as an MP in the 1997 General Election and rose to become home secretary before taking the top job of prime minister. Previously, May had worked at the Bank of England.