While British leaders were among the first to react to Theresa May’s resignation on Friday morning, it was a moment of political impact felt around the world.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour party said May was 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,” he tweeted. “Whoever becomes the new Tory leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate General Election.”
Senior politicians from May’s own party also tweeted their tributes.
Boris Johnson, the MP and comedy TV panel show favourite who built a reputation as a bemused, boorish and baffled character, is the bookmakers’ favourite to replace Theresa May as Conservative party leader.
“Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party,” he tweeted, before turning to a wider audience. “It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.”
Nobody could have worked harder or had a greater sense of public duty than the Prime Minister. Her dedication in taking our country forward has been monumental. She has served her country with fortitude and we are grateful to her for it.
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) May 24, 2019
Global leaders also weighed in on May’s resignation, which followed a series of bungled attempts to win support for a Brexit deal.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker praised May as “a woman of courage” for whom he had great respect.
Juncker will “equally respect and establish working relations” with any new British leader, an EU spokeswoman said. But the bloc also insisted it will not renegotiate the Brexit deal.
The Kremlin said May’s premiership had been “a very difficult time” for Russia’s relations with Britain, which were marked by poisonings and attempted murders of Russian dissidents on British soil.
“Mrs May’s stint as prime minister has come during a very difficult period in our bilateral relations,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson told journalists.
May’s successor will face the same parliamentary arithmetic which denied her a majority in the House of Commons, as well as the same timetable for withdrawal from the European Union.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted that the “agreement reached between the EU and the United Kingdom for an ordered Brexit remains on the table”.
Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was “sorry to hear” of May’s resignation. “We worked closely with her and her team on Brexit and the North,” he tweeted.
“I want to thank her for agreeing with us to retain and strengthen the Common Travel Area so that Irish & British citizens can travel, live, work, study, access healthcare, housing, pensions and welfare in each other’s countries as though we were citizens of both. This will withstand Brexit whatever form it takes.”
Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman, Martina Fietz, said the German chancellor noted May’s decision “with respect” and said they would continue to work closely with her successor for “an orderly exit”.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose Austrian government is also facing instability after the far-right FPO party withdrew in the wake of a corruption scandal, said Theresa May was a “principled and head-strong politician”.
“I wish her well. I hope that despite her announcement to resign reason will prevail in the #UK & that her successor will see to an orderly #Brexit,” he tweeted.
An estimated 540,000 Britons live in Spain, France or Germany, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The acting spokeswoman for the Spanish government was pessimistic over chances for a negotiated exit for Britain from Europe.
“A hard Brexit seems a reality that is almost impossible to avoid,” Isabel Celaa said in a press conference following a weekly cabinet meeting.
The decision about who leads the country must be taken in every community, not by the Brexiteer boys’ club in the tea rooms and bars of Westminster
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary
Back in Britain, workers’ representatives offered little sympathy for May.
“Working people are sick of the Tories focusing on who is going to take Theresa May’s job when thousands across the country are losing theirs,” Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB trade union, told the Press Association.
“We cannot let Britain’s workers, industries and communities become the casualties of the next round of Tory internal wars. Let’s have a general election and let the people decide.”
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, agreed: “The decision about who leads the country must be taken in every community, not by the Brexiteer boys’ club in the tea rooms and bars of Westminster.”
And Unite’s Len McLuskey added: “The shambolic handling of Brexit, the yawning inequalities in this country, our fraying public services and our once-proud manufacturing industry sliding into decline are the legacy of this Prime Minister and her woeful Tory Government.”
Anger turned into the prevailing emotion as #Trexit became a top trending term in the UK.
David Schneider, writer of 2017’s black comedic satire “The Death of Stalin”, countered May’s listing of her administration’s successes in her resignation speech with a litany of her failings:
Theresa May guide to crying NO TEARS for Grenfell The Windrush generation Deaths and misery caused by the hostile environment, by austerity, by welfare cuts, NHS cuts 598 rough sleepers dying on our streets last year 4m children in poverty Record food bank use TEARS for Herself
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) May 24, 2019
Armando Ianucci, writer of “The Thick of It”, a political sit-com set in a fictional and farcical Whitehall, encouraged his 600,000 Twitter followers to join the 131,000-member Conservative party ahead of the upcoming leadership contest.
“Democracy is fun,” he tweeted.
Conservative MP Ken Clarke, a centrist Europhile who was vocal in his disagreements with May, said she had been “cruelly treated”.
“She has, just for a moment, allowed her emotions to show,” he told the BBC.
“She has been cruelly treated, we have had three months of a botched assassination which has finally succeeded – a very sad end.”
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