Former UK PM Theresa May to quit as lawmaker

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Former British Prime Minister Theresa May will not stand for re-election, she said on Friday, ending a 27-year career in parliament marked by a tumultuous spell leading the country as it tore itself apart over Brexit.

May, 67, became the latest in a long line of Conservative Party politicians to signal their departure from parliament at an election later this year. Polls currently show the governing party is expected to lose power to the opposition Labour Party.

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May became prime minister in 2016 after then-leader David Cameron resigned in the wake of Britain's shock vote to leave the European Union. She was selected by her Conservative Party peers to implement the unprecedented decision, for which her predecessor had left no blueprint.

But she quit three years later having been unable to deliver Brexit on schedule or find a way to get parliament to approve her exit plan, handing the reins to Boris Johnson who galvanized much of the nation around his vision for Britain's departure.

Since leaving office she has remained a member of parliament for her constituency in southeast England, but she said on Friday her focus on trying to combat modern slavery and human trafficking was taking up an increasing amount of time.

“Because of this, after much careful thought and consideration, I have realized that, looking ahead, I would no longer be able to do my job as an MP (member of parliament) in the way I believe is right and my constituents deserve,” she told her local newspaper, the Maidenhead Advertiser.

Current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak paid tribute to May, describing her as fiercely loyal, a relentless campaigner, and saying she defined what it meant to be a public servant.

May's tenure was dominated by Brexit, overseeing one of the most disorderly periods in recent British political history as she grappled to hold together a party, and a country, that was deeply divided over what the EU withdrawal meant for the future.

After inheriting a small parliamentary majority, she in 2017 sought to capitalize on an initial wave of popularity by calling a snap election to win a bigger mandate.

But the plan backfired, with the Conservatives losing their overall majority and becoming reliant on the support of a smaller party to stay in power - making her efforts to push her Brexit plans through parliament even harder.

Facing a string of party rebellions and a parliamentary stalemate that tested the nation's constitution to its limits, she resigned as prime minister in 2019, emotionally describing the role as having been the “honor of my life to hold”.

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