Mrs May wins episcopal sympathy as she sets her exit date

24 May 2019

PA

Theresa May during her resignation announcement

Theresa May during her resignation announcement

THERESA May has “shown determination, resilience, and a sense of public duty that has never wavered”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Friday.

A few hours before, Mrs May announced that she would be resigning as Prime Minister on 7 June. Speaking in Downing Street, she said that she had “done everything” to deliver Brexit, and that it had been the “the honour of my life” to be Prime Minister.

In a statement on social media, Archbishop Welby said: “During the last three years of leading our nation through times of profound change and uncertainty, Theresa May has shown determination, resilience and a sense of public duty that has never wavered. That is a service to us all that deserves our admiration and gratitude.

“As Mrs May prepares to stand down from office over the coming months, this is a moment to pause and pray for her and her husband, Philip, whose support has been unwavering, and for all those around them working to ensure a smooth transition into new leadership. . .

In these critical times in our shared national life, people of faith should commit to pray for all those who lead, all those who are led, and work together with all of goodwill, especially for those who are vulnerable and on the margins.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, said on Twitter that she would be praying for Mrs May. “She has served with dignity in the hardest of political circumstances,” she wrote.

Mrs May explained: “It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.”

Her emotion clearly visible, she concluded that she left “with no ill will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love”.

The Bishop of Warrington, in Liverpool diocese, the Rt Revd Beverley Mason, issued a warning to those hoping to succeed Mrs May. She said: “For those whose sights have been on the premiership at any cost, now remember: ‘all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword’.”

In her speech, Mrs May said that her successor would have to “find compromise where I have not”. She went on: “Compromise is not a dirty word. Life depends on compromise.”

She had attempted to pass the Withdrawal Agreement three times unsuccessfully, undermining the main aim of her premiership. This week, the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, had said that it looked “extremely unlikely” that the latest revision of her deal would succeed (News, 24 May).

According to multiple polls, the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is the favourite to be the next Prime Minister. It is expected to be a crowded field of hopefuls for the Conservative leadership, however.

The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Friday: “Theresa May is right to resign. She’s now accepted what the country’s known for months: she can’t govern, and nor can her divided and disintegrating party.

“Whoever becomes the new Tory leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate General Election.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement:

“During the last three years of leading our nation through times of profound change and uncertainty, Theresa May has shown determination, resilience, and a sense of public duty that has never wavered. That is a service to us all that deserves our admiration and gratitude.

“As Mrs May prepares to stand down from office over the coming months, this is a moment to pause and pray for her and her husband, Philip, whose support has been unwavering, and for all those around them working to ensure a smooth transition into new leadership.

“Every day in churches across the country, we pray for our political leaders. We pray that they be guided and strengthened in wise leadership that strives for the common good. We pray too for their protection, safety and wellbeing in the roles they take on for the benefit of our communities and our nation. We also pray for their families who with them carry the burden that being in public life brings.

“In these critical times in our shared national life, people of faith should commit to pray for all those who lead, all those who are led, and work together with all of goodwill, especially for those who are vulnerable and on the margins. As Christians we pray that our society would be shaped around Christ’s hope-filled vision of abundant life for every person.”

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