David Cameron will chair his final cabinet meeting as prime minister later as Theresa May prepares to take over.
Mrs May had been expecting a nine-week Conservative leadership race, but rival Andrea Leadsom withdrew on Monday.
Mr Cameron will tender his resignation to the Queen on Wednesday, leaving Mrs May, home secretary since 2010, to appoint her own ministerial team.
Mrs May said she was “honoured and humbled” to be taking over and pledged to make a success of the UK’s EU exit.
Mrs Leadsom’s surprise announcement left Mrs May, who had been the front runner, as the only candidate to take over the leadership of the Conservative Party and, therefore, also become prime minister.
Snap election call
Flanked by dozens of Conservative MPs, Mrs May praised Mr Cameron for his stewardship of the party and the country and paid tribute to Mrs Leadsom for her “dignity” in withdrawing her leadership bid.
But senior Labour MP Jon Trickett has joined the Lib Dems and Green Party in calling for a snap general election.
Mr Trickett, Labour’s general election co-ordinator and an ally of leader Jeremy Corbyn, said it was “crucial” to have a “democratically elected prime minister” and he was putting the party on “general election footing”.
Mrs May has rejected such demands.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said EU negotiation, controlling immigration and managing the economy were “huge issues” that would challenge Mrs May’s desire for a “steady as she goes” approach.
By Alex Forsyth, BBC political correspondent
Theresa May was expecting a nine-week leadership contest, giving her plenty of time to think about her new team.
Instead, she’ll have had just 48 hours before having to walk into Downing Street and assemble a government.
As someone who wanted the UK to stay in the EU, there will be pressure to give prominent cabinet roles to those who backed Brexit.
Mrs May has promised radical social and economic reform – fuelling speculation over the future of current senior figures.
With limited time to make delicate political choices, the new prime minister must weigh change versus continuity, while trying to unite the Conservative Party after a bruising EU referendum campaign.
So far, Tory MPs have rallied round their new leader, but rival political parties have questioned her mandate after the leadership contest was cut short.
Sources close to Mrs May said she’d been very clear – there would be no general election.
‘Brexit means Brexit’
Mrs May said her leadership bid had been based on the need for “strong, proven leadership”, the ability to unite both party and country and a “positive vision” for Britain’s future.
And in a message perhaps designed to reassure Brexit-supporting colleagues, Mrs May, a Remain campaigner, said: “Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it.”
Mr Cameron, who has been prime minister since 2010, decided to quit after the UK’s Brexit vote, having also campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU.
Mr Cameron praised Mrs May as “strong” and “competent” and said she was “more than able to provide the leadership” the UK needs in the coming years.
“She will have my full support,” he added.
Announcing her decision to pull out of the contest, Mrs Leadsom, who was a leading light of the Brexit campaign, said a nine-week leadership campaign at such a “critical time” for the UK would be “highly undesirable”, and she gave her backing to Mrs May.
Mrs Leadsom had apologised to Mrs May on Monday after suggesting in a weekend newspaper interview that being a mother made her a better candidate for the job than the home secretary.
What happens next?
- The 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, which is overseeing the leadership contest, has declared Mrs May the new party leader “with immediate effect”
- David Cameron says he will take Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday and then head to Buckingham Palace and officially tender his resignation to the Queen and recommend she sends for Theresa May as his replacement
- Mrs May will then go to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen and receive her invitation to form a government
- Theresa May should then be in place as UK prime minister by Wednesday evening – it is not yet clear when the Cameron family will move out of No 10
Key dates for the new PM
- 18 July – Parliament due to vote on Trident renewal
- 19 July – Possible date for first cabinet meeting
- 20 July – First PMQs as prime minister
- 5 September – Parliament returns from summer recess
- 2-5 October – Conservative Party annual conference
- 20 October – First European Council meeting as prime minister
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