Europe

Leadership hopeful May vows to unify Britain behind EU exit

  • A "Remain" supporter, her face painted to resemble the EU flag, walks on Park Lane in London, as protesters marched to Parliament Square to show their support for the European Union in the wake of last weeks referendum decision for Britain to leave the EU, known as "Brexit", Saturday July 2, 2016. Demonstrators wearing EU flags as capes and with homemade banners saying "Bremain" and "We Love EU" gathered on the streets around Park Lane for the March for Europe rally. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

    A "Remain" supporter, her face painted to resemble the EU flag, walks on Park Lane in London, as protesters marched to Parliament Square to show their support for the European Union in the wake of last weeks referendum decision for Britain to leave the EU, known as "Brexit", Saturday July 2, 2016. Demonstrators wearing EU flags as capes and with homemade banners saying "Bremain" and "We Love EU" gathered on the streets around Park Lane for the March for Europe rally. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • "Remain" supporters demonstrate in Parliament Square, London, to show their support for the European Union in the wake of the referendum decision for Britain to leave the EU, known as "Brexit", Saturday July 2, 2016. Demonstrators wearing EU flags as capes and with homemade banners saying "Bremain" and "We Love EU" gathered on the streets for the March for Europe rally. At rear right is the Elizabeth Tower containing Big Ben. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA via AP)

    "Remain" supporters demonstrate in Parliament Square, London, to show their support for the European Union in the wake of the referendum decision for Britain to leave the EU, known as "Brexit", Saturday July 2, 2016. Demonstrators wearing EU flags as capes and with homemade banners saying "Bremain" and "We Love EU" gathered on the streets for the March for Europe rally. At rear right is the Elizabeth Tower containing Big Ben. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • "Remain" supporters near Park Lane in London, before marching to Parliament Square to show their support for the European Union in the wake of the referendum decision for Britain to leave the EU, known as "Brexit", Saturday July 2, 2016. Demonstrators wearing EU flags as capes and with homemade banners saying "Bremain" and "We Love EU" gathered on the streets around Park Lane for the March for Europe rally. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA via AP)

    "Remain" supporters near Park Lane in London, before marching to Parliament Square to show their support for the European Union in the wake of the referendum decision for Britain to leave the EU, known as "Brexit", Saturday July 2, 2016. Demonstrators wearing EU flags as capes and with homemade banners saying "Bremain" and "We Love EU" gathered on the streets around Park Lane for the March for Europe rally. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The leading Conservative candidate to succeed David Cameron as prime minister has pledged to unify her divided party and country behind a negotiated British exit from the European Union.

Home Secretary Theresa May, who holds a strong lead over four party rivals ahead of Tuesday's initial leadership ballot, says she can bridge the gulf between ardent opponents and supporters of EU membership.

May officially supported Cameron's pro-EU efforts but avoided campaigning herself. She argued Sunday this relative neutrality would help her build consensus between the 17 million who voted for a British exit, or "Brexit," and the 16 million who voted to remain in the June 23 referendum.

May said: "I've been clear that Brexit means Brexit. What we need to do is to bring those two sides together."