Britain is set to have a woman as its new Prime Minister. It’s a contest between two women Conservatives – Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom.
Both women made it to the final stage of the Tory leadership race on Thursday. They emerged as the two candidates who will not only battle to become Britain’s next prime minister but also lead the country out of the European Union.
Interior minister Theresa May won 199 votes and Leadsom 84 in a second ballot of lawmakers of the governing Conservative party. Justice Secretary Michael Gove took just 46 votes and was eliminated from the race.
“This vote proves the Conservative party can come together,” said May.
Leadsom told reporters that she was “delighted” to have made “an all-female shortlist.”
Around 150,000 grassroots Conservatives across the country will now vote to decide whether May or Leadsom becomes Britain’s first woman prime minister since Margaret Thatcher was forced from office in 1990.
The result of the contest is expected by Sept. 9. So, investors must endure another two more months of uncertainty over who will lead the huge task of disentangling Britain’s economy from the EU while trying to safeguard trade and investment.
Until a couple of weeks ago Leadsom, a junior energy minister, was barely known to most Britons, but as one of the leading voices in the successful Leave campaign she has dramatically emerged as a serious challenger as better-known rivals have been felled by political intrigue.
Former Brexit campaigner and London mayor Boris Johnson told reporters that Leadsom would “provide exactly the right kind of positive and optimistic and confident leadership this country needs.”
Johnson stunned Westminster last month after he abruptly pulled out of the race to become Britain’s prime minister that he was once favoured to win.
Johnson, whose backing for the Leave cause was seen as essential to its victory, saw his leadership bid suddenly crumble after his Brexit campaign ally, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, withdrew support and announced a bid of his own.
Prime Minister David Cameron said last month he was stepping down after voters, many of them swayed by concerns over high immigration and a desire to reclaim ‘independence’ from Brussels, rejected his entreaties to keep Britain in the EU and his warnings that leaving would spell economic disaster.
The bookies are said to be banking on 59-year-old May who has gradually emerged as the candidate with the most backing among both remain and leave camps. This despite the fact that May supported Cameron during the EU referendum campaign.
(With inputs from agencies)