Theresa May uses farewell address to urge Boris Johnson to secure Brexit deal

Theresa May used her final speech as prime minister to urge Boris Johnson to secure a Brexit deal and move the nation on from the “current impasse”.

Mr Johnson has pledged to pull the UK out of the European Union by the Halloween deadline in a “do or die” commitment, regardless of whether he has brokered a deal.

Before tendering her resignation to the Queen on Wednesday, Mrs May said her successor’s priority must be a Brexit “that works for the whole United Kingdom”.

The outgoing leader, stalked by the “Maybot” nickname over her apparent stiltedness and rigidity for the script through much of her tenure, managed to slip into spontaneity during the valedictory address.

Flanked by her husband Philip, she was interrupted by a cry of “stop Brexit” from a heckler outside Downing Street.

Mr May quipped: “That wasn’t me,” and Mrs May replied: “I think the answer to that is, I think not.”

She repeated her congratulations to Mr Johnson and wished him “every good fortune”.

Mrs May told the new leader and his Government that their “successes will be our country’s successes” – perhaps implying that so too could be their failures.

“Of course, much remains to be done – the immediate priority being to complete our exit from the European Union in a way that works for the whole United Kingdom,” she continued.

“With success in that task can come a new beginning for our country – a national renewal that can move us beyond the current impasse into the bright future the British people deserve.”

Theresa and Philip May
Theresa May with her husband Philip outside 10 Downing Street as she departed for the final time (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

For a leader who has tried and failed to get her hard-negotiated deal through a Parliament hostile to her plans, she said the “heavy responsibilities” of leadership “are outweighed by the huge potential to serve your country”.

Mrs May, who is only the second woman to serve as PM, also said she hopes her tenure inspires girls to believe their achievements can be limitless.

“This is a country of aspiration and opportunity and I hope that every young girl who has seen a woman prime minister now knows for sure that there are no limits to what they can achieve,” she said.

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