The Downfall of Theresa May, the Prime Minister Broken by Brexit

The Downfall of Theresa(təˈrēsə, təˈrāsə) May, the Prime(prīm) Minister(ˈminəstər) Broken by Brexit(ˈbregzət, ˈbreksət)

By Tim Ross(rôs) and Alex Morales(məˈraləs)

At 10:11 a.m., a devastated(ˈdevəˌstāt) Theresa May walked back in through the black door of Number 10 Downing Street, with tears(ter) in her eyes.

Once inside, she thanked her staff who welcomed her with applause(əˈplôz) and then found her husband(ˈhəzbənd), Philip(ˈfilip). The couple went through to the prime minister’s private(ˈprīvit) study(ˈstədē) together for a few moments alone.

For May, 62, it was the end she had dreaded(ˈdredəd) but could no longer avoid. After three years battling(ˈbadl) the impossible contradictions(ˌkäntrəˈdikSHən) of Brexit, she was resigning(riˈzīn) as U.K. prime minister, defeated(dəˈfēdəd) at last.

As Philip, her closest(klōs) confidant(-ˌdänt,ˈkänfəˌdant) and most important adviser(ədˈvīzər), comforted(ˈkəmfərt) May in her moment of distress(dəˈstres), none of the aides(ād) or officials gathered inside No. 10 wanted to disturb(dəˈstərb) them.

In truth, they had known a day earlier that there was no hope left, and the prime minister famous for her stubborn(ˈstəbərn) resilience(rəˈzilyəns) would have to resign.

This article charts the final chapter of May’s undoing. Based on conversations with advisers, ministers, officials and others who asked not to be named, it reveals(rəˈvēl) how a cabinet(ˈkab(ə)nət) in disarray(ˌdisəˈrā) over Brexit policy(ˈpäləsē) finally came together to oppose(əˈpōz) the prime minister’s last desperate(ˈdesp(ə)rət) plan.