British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will step down if her Brexit deal is approved by parliament.
In a meeting with legislators from her Conservative party on Wednesday, May said she would quit if the twice-defeated divorce deal she negotiated with the European Union passes at a third vote.
“We need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit,” May said, according to a statement released by her office. “I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.”
It is the first time the embattled leader has acknowledged she is prepared to resign in order to secure the votes for her Brexit deal to pass. She did not set a date for her departure.
“I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that,” she said.
May’s announcement came as MPs opened a debate on alternative approaches to Brexit in the House of Commons. Legislators will hold a series of non-binding votes on Wednesday to try and find majority support for a new Brexit plan.
Britain was due to leave the European Union on March 29 but has been granted a delay until April 12, after parliament overwhelmingly rejected May’s agreement on two occasions.
Several MPs who previously voted against the deal have suggested they could now support it, if May produces a timetable for her resignation, allowing a new leader to take over negotiations over Britain’s future relationship with the EU.
Speaking after May’s announcement, Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Brexiteer in the Conservative party, said he would back the prime minister’s deal if the Northern Irish DUP party that props up the government abstains on the issue.
Rees-Mogg had previously said he would vote for the deal if the Democratic Unionist Party also joins him in voting for May’s divorce deal with the European Union.
“If the DUP abstained I would feel entitled to back it,” he told reporters. “If the DUP was still against it I would not feel able to back it.”
Britain’s main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the prime minister’s offer to step down showed her Brexit talks were “about party management, not … the public interest”.
“Theresa May’s pledge to Tory MPs to stand down if they vote for her deal shows once and for all that her chaotic Brexit negotiations have been about party management, not principles or the public interest,” he said on Twitter.
“A change of government can’t be a Tory stitch-up, the people must decide.”