THE RACE to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader and Prime Minister has begun after she announced she will resign next month.

A leadership contest will take place once she departs Downing Street on June7, with a new leader, who will take over as Prime Minister announced by late July.

Mrs May broke down at the end of her speech outside Ten Downing Street yesterday, saying she served the country that she loves.

Her announcement comes as the Conservatives are expecting heavy losses in the European elections when the votes are counted tomorrow.

She leaves having been unable to get a Brexit deal approved by Parliament having taken over as Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation in 2016 after the referendum.

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

“It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honours the result of the referendum.”

She said her successor will need to compromise if a Brexit solution is to be found.

She said: “Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise,”

The front runners for the job include Boris Johnson who announced his leadership bid before Mrs May had gave the date of her departure.

Conservative MPs will choose from the nominated candidates, they will choose two who will be put to the party membership to elect a new leader.

The former Foreign Secretary was among the high-profile cabinet ministers who resigned over the so called Chequers deal on Brexit.

He is understood to have big support among the Tory membership who have the final vote on who becomes leader.

He is expected to face a challenge from former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

Other likely contenders are Environment Secretary Michael Gove while former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has also announced he will stand.

Outside candidates could include Andrea Leadsom who resigned as Leader of the House the day before Mrs May announced she would go next month.

Rory Stewart, the recently appointed International Development Secretary, who will stand and Matt Hancock the Health Secretary could be outside candidates.

Politicians inside and outside the Conservative Party responded to Mrs May’s resignation announcement.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, said the new Tory leader must call a General Election.

He said: “The last thing the country needs is weeks of more Conservative infighting followed by yet another unelected prime minister.

“Whoever becomes the new Conservative leader must let the people decide our country’s future, through an immediate general election.”

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister said: “I wish Theresa May well. She and I had profound disagreements - not least on her handling of Brexit and her disregard for Scotland’s interests. However, leadership is tough - especially in these times - and she deserves thanks for her service.

“Her departure will not solve the Brexit mess that the Tories have created. Only putting the matter back to the people can do that. Given current circumstances, it also feels deeply wrong for another Tory to be installed in Number 10 without a General Election.”