Hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May told Conservative lawmakers Wednesday that she will step down once the U.K.'s exit from the European Union is delivered, lawmakers there said they have voted on several options, but no clear alternative received majority support. May's announcement was a dramatic concession meant to bring enough of her colleagues on board to push her deal over the line.
Earlier, May had told a party meeting of legislators that she was aware of a desire for a new approach — and new leadership — in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations.
"I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party," she said, according to a transcript released by her office. "I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty — to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit."
May has been under mounting pressure from pro-Brexit members of her Conservative Party to quit. Several have said they would support the withdrawal deal if another leader was chosen to lead the next stage of negotiations, which will determine Britain's future relations with the EU.
In a packed meeting described by participants as "somber," May finally conceded she would have to go, although she did not set a departure date. Anti-EU lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has clashed with May throughout the Brexit process, said she had been "very clear" that if Britain leaves the EU on May 22, she will quit soon after.
The prime minister had been "very dignified," he said. "She out her case well, and reiterated that she had done her duty."
May's announcement came as British lawmakers finished debating multiple options for leaving the EU as they sought to bring some clarity to the tortured Brexit process and stop the country tumbling out of the bloc within weeks with no exit plan in place.
Lawmakers voted Wednesday on options that included leaving the European Union without a deal, staying in the bloc's customs union and single market, putting any EU divorce deal to a public referendum, and canceling Brexit if the prospect of a no-deal departure gets close.
The strongest support was for a plan to stay in a customs union with the bloc after Brexit, which was defeated by eight votes: 272-264.
Lawmakers plan to narrow the list of options down and hold more votes Monday.
Britain has until April 12 to find a new plan — or crash out of the EU without a deal.