Theresa May resigns: Merkel launches emergency Brexit talks as EU braces for new leader

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Responding to Mrs May’s announcement, EU leaders will discuss the next steps of Britain’s divorce as part of their Brussels summit on May 28. German Chancellor’s Angela Merkel’s deputy spokesman announced the bloc’s plans within an hour of Mrs May standing down. EU diplomats and officials in Brussels have pleaded with the next British prime minister to bring an end to the Brexit deadlock as soon as possible.

Leaders were due to discuss the next European Commission, Council and Parliament presidents but Brexit has once again hijacked a Brussels summit.

They now expect her to give a short update on the events in London before leaving them for a EU27 to discuss their strategy.

One EU diplomat said: “It would seem the road to Calvary was significantly shorter.

“The new prime minister must see it that the current stalemate in the UK is brought to an end as soon as possible.

“The enduring uncertainty affects both sides of the Channel.

“The withdrawal agreement will provide for an orderly departure and swift ratification is therefore key.”

A senior European Commission official said: “It is up to the UK how they decide to use their extension time.”

Philippe Lamberts, a member of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, said Mrs May’s resignation was a “chronicle of death foretold”.

In a warning that the next prime minister will be blocked from renegotiating Mrs May’s hated Brexit deal, added: “Boris Johnson will face exactly the same constraints.”

A second diplomat predicted a hardening of EU attitudes towards Britain in order to save the bloc’s reputation abroad.

The source said: “It is a fundamental question of our credibility at a time when the EU needs to hold the line, against populism, Donald Trump on trade and Russia.

“Will it throw all of that away just to help a Brexiteer like Boris Johnson? Can you see Emmanuel Macron doing that?”

Mrs May announced her resignation on the steps of Number 10 this morning, breaking down in tears during her speech.

The Prime Minister said she would step down as Conservative leader on June 7, after Donald Trump’s official state visit to the UK.

She will stay on in Downing Street until her successor is appointed by the Conservative party.

She said: “It is and will always remain a deep regret that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.”

She added it was in the “best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort”.

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