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'It was when rather than if, but the numbers do not change' - MPs pay tribute to Theresa May as she resigns as Prime Minister

MPs have paid tribute to Prime Minister Theresa May who has announced she will quit as Conservative leader next month.

It follows controversy over her latest Brexit plan and she will stand down on June 7 triggering the start of a leadership contest the following week.

Mrs May, who will remain as PM during the leadership race, gave an emotional statement in Downing Street this morning.

Theresa May.
Theresa May.

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill, who is an assistant whip, said: "I've thought for a little while that it was when rather than if.

"I thought this morning's announcement gave clarity to the time scale we move forward on and ends the speculation which will arguably ease pressure on the PM.

"I thought she had dignity, we saw her sense of duty and her great love of our country. On a human level you heard her voice at the end of the speech break and to give up something you cherish and you feel is valuable is always hard.

"I hope the process can be dealt with swiftly so we can put it to bed and get on with delivering Brexit and also the other issues that are important but my caveat to that is the numbers do not change which is the problem.

"It has been the problem the PM has fought with and had to address from the time she has been in position and those numbers will not change.

"As she said people not only in the Conservative Party but across Parliament will need to compromise in order to deliver Brexit."

Jo Churchill, Bury St Edmunds MP
Jo Churchill, Bury St Edmunds MP

Asked who she would like to see as the next Prime Minister, Mrs Churchill said: "That's way to early.

"The Prime Minister has literally just given us the timeline that will allow people to come forward.

"There are an awful lot of names in the ring at the moment and some of those will slowly self select as to whether they wish to stand.

"I will need to talk to all the respected candidates about how they're going to deliver on the will of the people and take both sides of the argument along with them and prioritise issues that are important to me, you and everybody else."

Mrs Churchill has ruled out standing for the top job though.

"I love representing Bury - that's plenty for me but I want the right person to be in the job," she added.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, West Suffolk MP, who is expected to enter the leadership race, tweeted: "Incredibly moving and dignified speech from the Prime Minister.

"She has given all in service of her country.

"Thank you Theresa."

Liz Truss, South West Norfolk MP, who is also considered a contender, said: "It was a very dignified statement from the Prime Minister.

"She has put her all into the job and has shown tremendous resilience at this difficult time."

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