London: David Cameron addressed his people for the last time as Britain’s prime minister on Wednesday afternoon, before leaving for Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II and hand over power to his successor, Theresa May, the home secretary.
“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve our country as prime minister over these last six years, and to serve as the leader of my party for almost 11 years,” Mr. Cameron said outside 10 Downing Street in London, joined by his wife, Samantha, and their three children. “My only wish is continued success for this great country that I love so very much.”
Mr. Cameron cited the nation’s economic recovery as his top legacy. “With the deficit cut by two-thirds, two and a half million more people in work, and one million more businesses, there can be no doubt that our economy is immeasurably stronger,” he said.
He also cited among his accomplishments the legalization of same-sex marriage, in 2013; changes to the education system; and reduced wait times for operations in Britain’s much loved National Health Service.
“I’m delighted that for the second time in British history, the new prime minister will be a woman, and once again a Conservative,” Mr. Cameron said. “I believe Theresa will provide strong and stable leadership in fulfilling the Conservative manifesto on which we were elected, and I wish her well in negotiating the best possible terms for Britain’s exit from the European Union.”
Mr. Cameron and his family set off for the palace at 4:48 p.m. and arrived only five minutes later. The palace confirmed the resignation less than a half-hour later, and Ms. May, 59, immediately left for the palace to meet the monarch. She will be the 13th prime minister to serve the queen; the first was Winston Churchill.
Hours earlier, in his final parliamentary duty, Mr. Cameron took part for the last time in prime minister’s questions, the weekly ritual in which lawmakers interrogate the leader in often combative exchanges.
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On Wednesday, the discussion was more respectful — and lighthearted — than usual, as Mr. Cameron’s political adversaries and allies paid tribute to him as he prepared to leave his office in 10 Downing Street for the last time as prime minister, a position he has held for six years.
“I’m told that there are lots of leadership roles out there at the moment: There’s the England football team, there’s ‘Top Gear,’ there’s even across the big pond the role that needs filling,” Danny Kinahan, a lawmaker from Northern Ireland, told Mr. Cameron jokingly, referring to the country’s soccer team, a popular television show and the United States presidential election.
Jeremy Corbyn, the embattled leader of the opposition Labour Party, congratulated Mr. Cameron for his support for same-sex marriage and for his efforts to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen and British resident, from Guantánamo Bay last fall. He pressed Mr. Cameron, however, on his record on homelessness; the affordability of housing; and the rise of “zero hour” contracts that can exploit low-wage workers.
Mr. Cameron said his government had reduced child poverty and cracked down on mistreatment of workers.