LONDON: Faced with losing all control over the Brexit process, British Prime Minister Theresa May has made one final, desperate move: hinting she will step down if MPs approve her Brexit deal.
The Conservative leader has faced growing calls to resign over the political crisis that has gripped Britain for months, and which forced her to ask the EU last week to delay Brexit by a fortnight.
With many MPs now pressing for a longer extension or even to reverse the whole process, May has made one last attempt to secure support for the divorce deal she has struck with Brussels.
She told MPs in her party on Wednesday evening that she would not "stand in the way" of new leadership for the "second phase of Brexit negotiations" -- without spelling out when exactly this would be.
'Time to move on'
May has in the past won praise for her determination and ability to survive an extraordinary period of political turmoil since the Brexit vote.
But her approach to the endgame -- refusing to accept that MPs did not like her deal and delaying Brexit to keep trying to push it through -- has prompted frustration and anger on all sides.
She has all but lost control of her government, with ministers from both the pro- and anti-Brexit camps joining scores of Conservative MPs in defying the government in parliamentary votes.
This weekend, after another humiliating Brussels summit, British newspapers were full of reports of moves by her colleagues to oust her.
The Conservative-supporting Spectator magazine suggested May was the "worst prime minister in our history", condemning her "lack of imagination, inability to lead a team or solve complex problems".
Her former director of communications, Katie Perrior, wrote in The Times newspaper that May was "a passenger at the time when the country needed a rally driver".
Top selling tabloid The Sun praised May's "remarkable resilience in the face of repeated humiliations", but said it was "time to move on".
Despite having campaigned to stay in the EU, May embraced the cause once she took office with the mantra "Brexit means Brexit".
Her promise to leave the EU's institutions and end free movement of workers delighted eurosceptic MPs, but caused dismay among many pro-Europeans.
The splits in her Conservative party became a serious problem after a disastrous snap election in June 2017, when May lost her parliamentary majority.
She was forced to strike a deal with Northern Ireland's pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and since then has struggled to keep her party and its allies together.
Naturally reserved and reliant on her husband Philip and a few close aides, May says she is just quietly "getting on with the job".
But in the last election, she struggled to engage with voters and was dubbed the "Maybot" after churning out the same answers and speeches over and over again.
May's legacy from her previous role as interior minister has also been called into question in recent months, with growing criticism of her crackdown on irregular migration.
No unity candidate
The question now is whether May's gamble succeeds -- and who might succeed her.
May has faced repeated challenges since taking office, with figures such as former foreign minister Boris Johnson constantly challenging her authority.
But she won a leadership challenge within her own party in December, even if she had to promise to quit before the next scheduled election in 2022.
May's critics are hampered by their own divisions, and have so far failed to unite behind a rival candidate.