Theresa May resigns: what the papers say about her premiership and what's next for the country

Ella Wills
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The papers have given their verdicts on Theresa May's resignation, her premiership and what politicians should do next for the country.

The Daily Telegraph, which called for Mrs May's resignation on Thursday, says Mrs May will leave Number 10 "far too late" and "having wasted precious time".

While having showed "unwavering dedication" to the job, "her list of achievements is pitifully short", the paper says.

"Perhaps the most serious consequence of Mrs May's time in office will be her successor's reaction to everything she got wrong, whoever that will be.

Theresa May and her husband Philip yesterday (Reuters)

"If anyone ought to heed the Prime Minister's advice that 'compromise is not a dirty word', it is the EU."

The Guardian says Mrs May's legacy is "poisonous" and that she was "doomed by her failure to face honestly the real choices of Brexit, and to make her party face them too".

"There was some pathos in Theresa May's attempt today to list accomplishments in government to offset her colossal failure to take Britain out of the European Union," the paper says.

"So she passes on an insoluble problem to a successor who can only win the job by promising to do the impossible. It is a miserable and poisonous legacy."

The Times says Mrs May's failure was "self-inflicted" and that her successor will need to "be realistic about what is achievable".

"No one need feel too much sympathy for Theresa May. Her career has ended in humiliating failure but that was largely her own fault," the paper says.

"The Conservative Party must use this election to reflect realistically about what can be negotiated with the EU, honest about the damage that no-deal would inflict on the economy and honest about the risk that a general election would lead to a second referendum, which could result in no Brexit."

The Daily Mail says Mrs May made mistakes of her own, but she always acted in good faith, "which is more than can be said for most of the vipers around her".

"An honourable Brexit was in our grasp. But the political class spurned it - placing personal prejudice and hubris above pragmatism and the national interest," the paper says.

"Around the country they are despised for it. It's hard to think of any time when politicians were held in such low esteem. They were given a simple job. They flunked it."

The Daily Mirror says Mrs May came to office with "noble intentions", but "the words were never matched by deeds".

"She bequeaths a dismal domestic legacy of more than four million children in poverty, a record number of people using foodbanks and crumbling public services," the paper says.

"Who takes over the reins of power should not be in the hands of Conservative MPs and a few thousands party members. If the next leader wants a mandate to govern they should call a general election."

The Sun says it would take a "heart of stone" not to be moved by the emotion in Mrs May's resignation speech, but concludes she has been a "poor Prime Minister" with a legacy of "thin gruel".

"For all that her critics have thrown at her, The Sun included, who could fail to recognise the monstrous strain she has endured for three years?," the paper says.

"(But) Mrs May has left the Tories in dire straits and with one chance to survive. For their sake - and Britain's - they had better make the right choice."

The Daily Express calls for readers to "stay positive about the future - at least for the time being".

"Mrs May gave her all for her country. To have endured deeply personal and vitriolic attacks while trying her best to secure Brexit is a burden few can comprehend," the paper says.

"We are a divided people with a fractured Parliament. Tribal by nature, our very worst instincts have risen to the fore, and Mrs May failed to bridge the insurmountable gap between intransigence and flexibility."

North of the border, The Scottish Sun says she has been "Britain's unluckiest Prime Minister" and "if anyone was cursed with a reverse Midas touch, it was Mrs May".

"From robotic dancing to almost choking to death as her conference speech set fell to pieces around her, everything that could go wrong, did. But the problems were more than purely cosmetic," the paper says.