London: UK Home Secretary Theresa May looks set to take charge as Britain’s second woman Prime Minister to replace David Cameron after her only rival in a surprise move announced today that she was withdrawing from the race. Andrea Leadsom, who was energy minister in the Cameron-led Cabinet, pulled out from the two-way contest for the Conservative party leadership in a dramatic move today.
She threw her support behind 59-year-old May as “ideally placed” to enforce the vote for Brexit in last month’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU). “The interests of our country are best served from the immediate appointment of a strong and well-supported Prime Minister. I am therefore withdrawing from the leadership election and I wish Theresa May the very greatest success. I assure her of my full support,” Leadsom told reporters here.
“The best interests of our country inspired me to stand for our leadership. I believe in leaving the EU a bright future awaits. The referendum result represented a clear desire for change,” the 53-year-old senior Tory MP said.
It then fell to the 1922 committee of Conservative MPs to decide the revised timetable for the leadership race. Conservative MP Graham Brady, the chairman of the committee, told reporters soon after Leadsom’s announcement that May is now the only candidate for the party leadership, which only leaves the formal announcement of her as party leader and PM.
An exact time-frame for that will become clear in the coming days. Leadsom’s withdrawal nullified the need for a postal ballot by the UK-wide Conservative party membership and it is now certain that the new leader will be officially declared much sooner than the September 9 timeline initially announced.
Leadsom’s announcement follows days of controversy around her candidature, which included allegations of exaggerating her curriculum vitae (CV) and most recently having to apologise to her rival over an interview to The Times which suggested that being a mother made her a better candidate for the job. May had recently publicly revealed her own sadness at not being able to have children.
She now looks all set to take over from Cameron, who had announced he would be stepping down for a new PM to take the Brexit negotiations forward.