Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip leave a polling station after voting in the European Elections in Sonning, England, Thursday, May 23, 2019.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

D-Day for May? UK leader could name her departure date

May 24, 2019 - 4:37 am

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May met a leader of her Conservative lawmakers on Friday amid mounting speculation that she is about to announce her departure date.

The party's key backbench committee called the showdown meeting for May to agree to leave soon or face a likely leadership challenge. Several British media outlets reported that May would agree to give up the party leadership June 10, sparking a contest to replace her as Conservative leader and prime minister.

Pressure on May to quit over her failure to get Parliament's approval for a European Union divorce deal reached critical point this week as House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom quit and several Cabinet colleagues expressed doubts about her Brexit bill.

With her authority draining away by the hour, May on Thursday delayed plans to publish the EU withdrawal bill — her fourth and likely final attempt to secure Parliament's backing for her Brexit blueprint.

May could stay in office as a caretaker prime minister for several weeks until party lawmakers and members choose a successor. The new Conservative leader would then become prime minister without the need for a general election.

Several Conservative lawmakers have already said they will run to replace May — and, they say, complete Britain's journey out of the EU. The early front-runner is Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary and strong champion of Brexit.

May became prime minister in July 2016, and her premiership has been consumed by the so-far-unsuccessful attempt to leave the EU.

Britain is currently due to depart on Oct. 31, but Parliament has yet to approve divorce terms.

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