The Current

Theresa May's successor will face 'exactly same problem' of divided Britain, says historian

British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced her departure date, after months of crises and humiliation over her Brexit plan. But her resignation won't solve the larger problems with Brexit, says author and historian Anne Applebaum.

'There is no majority inside the current British parliament for anything': Anne Applebaum

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May has announced she will step down on June 7, but will remain in a caretaker role over the summer while the Conservative Party chooses her successor. (Yui Mok/The Associated Press)

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The question is not why British Prime Minister Theresa May is resigning, but how she stayed in power so long, according to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historian.

"It's incredible that it took so long to happen. People have been talking about wanting her resignation for months and months — plotting it, planning it, discussing it — and she's finally done it," said Anne Applebaum, an author, historian, and columnist with the Washington Post.

May said Friday that she will step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7, succumbing to calls in her governing party to make way for someone who can try to break an impasse over Britain's departure from the European Union.

"The irony is that whoever is her successor, with whatever point of view they have, they're going to face exactly the same problem," Applebaum told The Current's guest host Laura Lynch.

"There is no majority inside the current British parliament for anything: not for leaving, not for staying, not for any compromise."

WATCH | Theresa May announces she will quit as U.K. leader:

Theresa May will step down

3 years ago
Duration 2:50
The U.K. prime minister is resigning as Conservative leader on June 7 after a Brexit process that still hasn't been completed. 2:50

May will remain in a caretaker role over the summer, while the Conservative Party chooses someone to lead the party, and the country.

Margaret Evans, the CBC's senior Europe correspondent, said that "a lot of people [are] really unhappy now, about the fact that the next prime minister of the country is going to be chosen by the Conservative Party."

She explained that there's an expectation that the party will choose a hardline Brexiteer, who could take Britain out of the EU at any cost, including without a trade deal.

"It could be quite chaotic," she told Lynch.

She said that while some voters want the next prime minister to be determined through a general election, others argue that not delivering on the 2016 Brexit referendum would be undemocratic.

With no resolution in sight, Brexit continues to divide the country's population. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

"We've had three years of incredible turmoil here," Evans said.

"The problem of the divisions over Brexit are not going to just disappear. Even ... if you do take Britain out of the European Union, those divisions are not going to disappear."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Written by Padraig Moran, with files from CBC News. Produced by John Chipman, Samira Mohyeddin and Julie Crysler.


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