PM spent the night at home in Berkshire with her husband Philip before returning to Downing Street today
Theresa May announced plans to step aside as Tory leader on June 7 and leave No10 over the summer
Mrs May began the day with a meeting with the Tories’ backbench 1922 shop steward Sir Graham Brady
She then address the nation from Downing Street to explain why she has decided to leave ‘the job I love’
Having been overcome by emotion during the speech she then became tearful as she thanked staff inside
Mrs May paid tribute to her ‘rock’ husband Philip and spoke of the ‘journey’ she had been on in speech to aides
By JAMES TAPSFIELD, MAILONLINE POLITICAL EDITOR and MARTIN ROBINSON, CHIEF REPORTER and DAVID WILCOCK, WHITEHALL CORRESPONDENT FOR MAILONLINE
Theresa May repeatedly broke down in tears today as she admitted her Brexit-wracked premiership is coming to an end – first on live TV and then behind closed doors.
Watched by husband Philip, the Prime Minister was overcome by emotion on the steps of Downing Street as she conceded that her desperate struggle to get the UK out of the EU will end in failure.
‘I’ve done my best,’ she said. ‘I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal … sadly I have not been able to do so.
‘It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.’
Mrs May was almost unable to continue as she voiced her pride at having served the country. She declared she will resign as Conservative leader on June 7, triggering a contest that should be complete by the end of July.
And there were more tears when she went back inside No10, as she paid tribute to her ‘rock’ husband during an address thanking her staff and advisers. MailOnline understands Mrs May welled up when she said of her time in office, ‘it’s been a journey’.
The dramatic scenes came after Mrs May’s last-ditch effort to get her EU deal through the Commons backfired spectacularly. Tories were up in arms and the Cabinet mounted an open revolt after she offered MPs a vote on holding a second referendum and joining a temporary customs union with the EU.
The PM humiliatingly pulled her Withdrawal Agreement Bill – known as WAB – yesterday after accepting the reality of her demise.
Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful Tory 1922 committee, met her in No10 this morning. He had been instructed by Tory backbenchers to enforce an exit date if Mrs May refused to volunteer one, with MPs threatening to change party rules to allow a fresh no-confidence vote.
Jeremy Corbyn immediately seized on the news to demand a general election, saying the Conservatives were ‘divided and disintegrating’.
Boris Johnson also kicked off the Tory leadership battle by declaring that the UK should leave the EU on October 31 ‘deal or no deal’ – while Jeremy Hunt confirmed today that he will be a candidate.
But despite the brutal assault on her position from her own side, there was an outpouring of sympathy today after Mrs May finally fell on her sword.
Mr Johnson paid tribute to her ‘stoical service to our country’, urging politicians to ‘follow her urgings’ by ‘coming together to deliver Brexit’.
Andrea Leadsom, whose resignation as Commons Leader put the final nail in Mrs May’s political coffin, tweeted: ‘A very dignified speech by @theresa_may. An illustration of her total commitment to country and duty. She did her utmost, and I wish her all the very best.’
David Cameron also weighed in, describing it as a ‘strong and brave speech’.