Prime Minister Theresa May's resignation looks likely to make Britain's looming departure from the EU even more difficult, with some suggesting a hard or "no-deal" Brexit is now almost inevitable.

Here are the main reactions to the announcement she will step down as leader of the Conservative Party, and hence also as Prime Minister, on June 7.

No change

The European Union said the resignation does nothing to change its position on the Brexit withdrawal deal agreed with Britain.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted May's decision "without personal joy", a spokeswoman said, adding that the council of EU leaders has "set out its position" on the Brexit deal.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted that he "would like to express my full respect for @theresa_may and for her determination, as Prime Minister, in working towards the #UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU".

'Deliver Brexit'

One of the leading contenders to succeed May, Britain's former foreign minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "A very dignified statement from @theresa_may. Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit." 

'Rapid clarification'

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed May for her "courageous work" in seeking to implement Brexit in the interests of her country while showing respect for Britain's European partners.

But the Elysee statement added: "The principles of the EU will continue to apply, with the priority on the smooth functioning of the EU, and this requires a rapid clarification."

"At a time of an important choice, votes of rejection that do not offer an alternative project will lead to an impasse."

Merkel's 'respect'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted May's decision "with respect", saying they shared a "good and trusting" working relationship, according to her spokeswoman.

Pledging to keep working with May in the same spirit as long as she is in office, Merkel noted Berlin "wishes to maintain close cooperation and a close relationship with the British government", spokeswoman Martina Fietz said.

Fietz declined to comment on how the resignation could affect Brexit, as "the development depends essentially on domestic political developments in Britain".

'Very difficult period'

In Moscow, the Kremlin said that May's premiership has been a very difficult time for Russia's relations with Britain.

"Mrs May's stint as prime minister has come during a very difficult period in our bilateral relations," said President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

No Brexit renegotiation

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the EU would never reopen negotiations on the Brexit divorce deal, regardless of who succeeds Theresa May.

"The withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation," Rutte told a news conference.

'Dangerous' time for Ireland

May's resignation is fraught with dangers for Ireland because her successor could take Britain out of the EU without a deal, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned.

"British politics is consumed by Brexit and will be consumed by Brexit for a very long time. It means that we now enter a new phase when it comes to Brexit, and a phase that may be a very dangerous one for Ireland," Varadkar said while casting his ballot in the European Parliament election.

No-deal exit almost inevitable

Madrid warned that a no-deal Brexit appeared almost inevitable. 

"Under these circumstances, a hard Brexit appears to be a reality that is near impossible to stop," Spanish government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa told reporters, adding that the British government and parliament would be "solely responsible for a no-deal exit (from the EU) and its consequences". 

Pound wobbles

On the financial markets, sterling sank below $1.27 but did not reach the four-month lows that were plumbed a day earlier and was still higher compared to late Thursday, as dealers argued that the resignation news had already been priced in. 

What happens now? Key dates ahead as British PM quits



London, United Kingdom | AFP | Friday 5/24/2019 - 18:57 UTC+2 | 543 words

UPDATES details on election process

Here is the timetable ahead for Britain's prime minister as Theresa May prepares to step down from the role:

May 26-27: Results of Thursday's UK elections to the European Parliament revealed. Opinion polls put the newly-formed Brexit Party on course to win. The Conservatives could finish as low as fifth.

May 28: Informal dinner of EU heads of state or government in Brussels to discuss the outcome of the European Parliament elections and start nominating the new heads of the EU institutions. May is expected to attend.

June 4: House of Commons returns from its break.

Jne 7: May will formally resign as leader of the Conservative Party. She will remain as prime minister until her successor is chosen.

June 10: Process to elect new Conservative Party leader set to start this week. Nominations to close by the end of the week.

June 20-21: European summit in Brussels. EU leaders will decide on who will take the big jobs in the bloc's institutions for the next five years and to adopt the EU's strategic agenda for 2019-2024.

June 28-29: G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. Britain's prime minister due to attend.

End of June: Conservative MPs expected to have whittled down their leadership contenders to the final two by this time.

July 2: Inaugural plenary session of the new European Parliament. It was hoped that Britain, even if it took part in the elections, would be out before this point so the MEPs would never actually take their seats. 

July 20: Date parliament is set to go on its summer break. The Conservative Party said the leadership contest results would be announced by this point.

August 25-27: G7 summit in Biarritz, southwest France. New British prime minister due to attend.

September 29-October 2: Conservative Party conference in Manchester, northwest England. The new party leader will be in place and address their main annual gathering.

October 17-18: EU summit in Brussels. British prime minister due to attend if UK is still in the bloc at this date.

October 31: Barring a third postponement or an earlier departure, Britain leaves the European Union.

 

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