Michael Gove enters Conservative race to succeed Theresa May

British Environment Secretary Michael Gove has entered the crowded race to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, who is stepping down as Conservative Party leader on June 7.

Gove said Sunday that "I can confirm that I will be putting my name forward to be prime minister of this country."

A party leadership campaign will officially begin after May quits, but already eight contenders have said they will run. The winner will be selected by Conservative lawmakers and about 120,000 party members, and will automatically become prime minister.

May announced her departure Friday, admitting defeat in her three-year quest to deliver Brexit.

The leadership contest is dominated by candidates vowing to take Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 even if there is no deal.

Most businesses and economists think that would plunge Britain into recession.