PM May says she will leave disappointed after Brexit failure

LONDON • British Prime Minister Theresa May said she will leave her job this month with a mixture of pride and disappointment after failing in her central pledge to lead the country out of the European Union and heal its divisions.

Mrs May, who endured several crises in her bid to find a compromise Brexit deal that Parliament could ratify, said she had underestimated lawmakers' opposition.

"I think it'll be a mixture of pride at having done the job but also a degree of disappointment because there was more that I wanted to do," she told the BBC on Friday.

"There were moments when I sat here and thought I wish we'd got Brexit over the line - you know I wish we'd managed to achieve that."

Citing Parliament's decision to trigger Article 50, the mechanism which began the process of the UK's leaving the EU, Mrs May said she assumed that lawmakers would come together and agree on a deal to leave.

"What I had underestimated was that there were people who were in entrenched positions," she said. "I'd underestimated the extent to which Parliament was not willing to just deliver what people wanted in the referendum. I sacrificed my job in order to try to get a deal."

When asked whether the front runner to replace her, Mr Boris Johnson, understood the seriousness of the office of prime minister, Mrs May said she thought that both he and Mr Jeremy Hunt understood the job's responsibility - although she did not endorse either candidate.


With Mrs May's premiership being dogged by leaks and Cabinet in-fighting, she pointed to the need for a future return of collective ministerial responsibility, the convention whereby ministers support the government's line in public.

"Good Cabinet government depends on collective responsibility and on what is said within the Cabinet room... staying there," she added. "I think once we have left the EU... collective responsibility needs to return."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 14, 2019, with the headline 'PM May says she will leave disappointed after Brexit failure'. Print Edition | Subscribe