Theresa May is to resign as Prime Minister on June 7.

Mrs May announced her departure outside Downing Street shortly after 10am and the news paves the way for contest to decide a new UK prime minister.

A tearful Prime Minister said she had "done my best" to get her Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament and take the UK out of the European Union but acknowledged she had failed.

"It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit," she said in Downing Street.

Watched by husband Philip and her closest aides, an emotional Mrs May said it was in the "best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort".

Announcing her departure from a job she loved, Mrs May said: "I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday June 7 so that a successor can be chosen."

Concluding her resignation statement, Mrs May broke down as she said it had been "the honour of my life" to serve "the country that I love".

Earlier, in a sign that the leadership race to replace Mrs May is already under way, Helen Grant, who was brought up in Carlisle, quit as Conservative vice chair for communities to "actively and openly" support Dominic Raab.

She quit her Tory party role to avoid any "perception of a conflict" between Mr Raab's campaign and Conservative HQ".

Ms Grant said the former Brexit secretary "has an inspiring vision for a fairer Britain and I think he is undoubtedly the best person to unite the Conservative Party and our country".

Mr Raab, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are among the frontrunners to replace Mrs May.

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart is also reported to be considering running.

Mr Stewart tweeted: “The Prime Minister has been an immensely dignified public servant - it has been a great honour to work with her and for her - we owe Theresa May a great debt of gratitude.”

Conservative Carlisle MP John Stevenson has officially ruled himself out of the running for the top job.

He said: "I will not be putting my hat in the ring for the post. It is an incredibly tough job, but it is an important one.

"We are a very divided country, somebody has to unite the country."

Mr Stevenson paid tribute to the Conservative leader.

He said: "She has been very dignified in her approach and in her resignation.

"She has done her best in difficult circumstances to implement the wishes of the British people following the referendum to leave the European Union."

Trudy Harrison, Copeland's Conservative MP, said: "This has been expected for weeks.

"I pay tribute to Theresa May for her resilience, strength and dedication.

"I know she has always had the national interest at heart and I've already began engaging with prospective leaders of our party.

"I will be looking for a Prime Minister who recognises the North of England's qualities: nuclear, tourism and the farming industries and recognises the importance in health and education and who will prioritise spending on road, rail and infrastructure, especially in Copeland."