Theresa May officially steps down as Prime Minister

British MPs gave outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May a standing ovation as they applauded her out of the House of Commons chamber after her final, at times emotional, appearance as leader.

May, 62, appeared to be fighting back tears as she left, stopping to shake hands with the Speaker, John Bercow, on her way out.

She officially handed over to her successor Boris Johnson later on Wednesday.

"Later today, I will return to the back benches and it will be my first time in 21 years so it is going to be quite a change," May told MPs as her final weekly question session in parliament came to a close.

Praising the link between MPs and the constituents they represent as "the bedrock of our parliamentary democracy", May's voice quivered as she finished: "That duty to serve my constituents will remain my greatest motivation."

The hour-long session, which her husband Philip watched from the public gallery, saw MPs from across the political divide pay tribute to May's public service and sense of duty despite voicing their disagreement with many of her policies.

Jeremy Corbyn, who tapped his fingers on his knee amid the standing ovation, was no doubt reeling from May's parting shot across the floor earlier in the exchanges.

"As a party leader who has accepted when her time was up, perhaps the time is now for him to do the same," she gibed.

To add insult to injury, Labour MP Ian Austin later said the "vast majority" on his benches agreed.

Corbyn had earlier paid tribute to May's "sense of public duty" before highlighting increases in poverty, violent crime, NHS waiting times and school class sizes in the past three years, among other things.

Television footage from a news helicopter over parliament showed parliamentary staff lined up in a courtyard, clapping and taking photos on their phones as she walked to her car to return to her Downing Street residence for the final time.

May took over as Prime Minister in the aftermath of the 2016 vote to leave the European Union and is standing down just over three years later having failed to deliver Brexit, her divorce deal with the bloc rejected three times by a deeply divided parliament.

One of her final acts as prime minister was to receive the resignations of Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart from their cabinet roles.

Her effective deputy prime minister David Lidington also announced he was standing down from the government.

May's farewell speech in Downing Street was interrupted by a cry of "stop Brexit" from a protester outside.

In reply she joked: "I think not."

Reuters