May leaves just shy of exactly three years as party leader.
The Union flag flying above the Palace of Westminster, London.
Leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage speaks as he and newly elected Members of the European Parliament from Brexit Party attend a news conference following the results of the European Parliament elections, in London, Britain, May 27, 2019.
With Britain given until October 31 to reach a Brexit deal with Brussels, May's successor will have the job of attempting to steer a withdrawal plan through a parliament bitterly divided over the future relationship with the EU. The last thing the country needs is weeks of more Conservative infighting followed by yet another unelected Prime Minister. Europhiles, who favor continued participation in the European Union, fear it doesn't keep Britain tied closely enough to the EU, Britain's biggest trading partner, while hardline Brexiters, who want a sharp break with the EU, argue it would turn Britain into a "vassal state".
Frustrated and angry voters are turning away from the big parties to the upstart Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage and - on the other side of the European divide - the Liberal Democrats and Greens, who want Britain to remain in the EU. She had won the seat from the Conservatives in 2017's general election with a majority of just 607 votes.
Polling guru John Curtice told the BBC that the result showed Britain was now in a "different political world".
It could well be that if that doesn't happen; the Brexit Party will actually continue the success it's been having, and could actually take over the mantle of Conservativism in the UK.
May formally relinquished her leadership in the private letter to her party on Friday.
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Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has emerged as favorite to win, but a number of May's front bench ministers, including current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, are also in the race.
She then spent her last day as Tory leader in her Maidenhead constituency, with the Peterborough by-election defeat a stark illustration of the difficulties she has faced and which will now trouble her successor. The victor of the party leadership race will automatically become the next prime minister.
Farage, who has called for Britain to leave the bloc without a deal, said last weekend while campaigning he saw the by-election as "the opportunity for the next chapter in this great story".
Nominations for the Conservative leadership contest open and close on Monday, and the 313 Conservative MPs - including May - will hold the first of a series of secret ballots on Thursday. Further rounds will be held on June 18, 19 and 20 if needed, with the least popular candidate dropping out each time. But is it really possible that the Brexit Party could run the country by the end of this year?
Mr Johnson, a leading campaigner in the 2016 referendum who quit the government past year over Mrs May's plan, is among several would-be candidates who say they are willing to do this.
Johnson is one of several contenders - including Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Health Secretary Matt Hancock - promising to go back to Brussels and make changes to the Brexit deal. They will then be put to a ballot of an estimated 100,000 party members.