May made the offer to her MPs at a packed meeting in Parliament. It came while Tory MPs held backbench-led “indicative votes” on eight alternative Brexit options to see which would garner the most support. The options included a no deal, a referendum, and a customs union – none of which secured a majority.
“I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party,” May said, according to BBC. The prime minister said she knew Tory MPs did not want her to lead the next phase of Brexit negotiations and said she would not stand in the way of that.
Soon after May’s offer to step down, the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, which has 10 MPs in the Parliament, said it will vote against the Brexit withdrawal deal. The party’s leader, Arlene Foster, said the “necessary changes” she wanted to see to the backstop clause in the withdrawal agreement had still not been secured.
Foster told the BBC the backstop threatened UK’s integrity and her party would never “sign up to something that would damage the Union”. The Irish backstop is a “safety net” to preserve a border without customs and regulatory checks through a series of measures.
Jeremy Corbyn, who is the leader of the Opposition, said May’s pledge to step down shows her “chaotic” Brexit negotiations “have been about party management, not principles or the public interest”. “A change of government can’t be a Tory stitch-up, the people must decide.”
May’s announcement came amid British MPs voting on eight different Brexit options, none of which received the majority support, AP reported. The Parliament is trying to find an alternative to May’s Brexit deal.
The alternatives included leaving the European Union without a deal, staying in the bloc’s customs union and single market, putting any EU withdrawal deal to a public referendum, and cancelling Brexit if the prospect of a no-deal departure gets close.
The plan to stay in a customs union with the bloc after Brexit got the most support – 272 to 264 votes. MPs plan to narrow the list of option and hold more votes on Monday. The UK has until April 12 to find a new plan or exit the European Union without a deal.