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It’s May v Leadsom in Tory race to become Britain’s second female prime minister

It’s May v Leadsom in Tory race to become Britain’s second female prime minister

🕔07.Jul 2016

Britain will have a female prime minister for only the second time in its history after Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom won the right to go head to head in the Tory leadership battle.

Mrs May, the Home Secretary, received the support of 199 Conservative MPs in the final round of voting at Westminster today. Mrs Leadsom, the Energy Minister, was backed by 84 MPs.

Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, was knocked out after receiving only 46 votes.

The Conservative Party membership will vote for either Mrs May or Mrs Leadsom as their preferred candidate to be the next prime minister with a result due to be announced on September 9.

Members will be able to choose between Mrs May, who voted for Britain to remain in the EU, albeit reluctantly, and Mrs Leadsom who has beem one of the most outspoken supporters of Brexit.

Today’s eliminating round of voting saw the conclusion of a dramatic leadership contest that has electrified the Conservative party since David Cameron announced his intention to resign following the Brexit European referendum result.

Boris Johnson, an early favourite, was forced to pull out of the race after his running mate, Mr Gove, decided to run himself and gave Mr Johnson only two hours’ notice. This led to claims from the former mayor of London’s supporters that Mr Gove had stabbed their man in the back.

Mrs Leadsom has faced criticism, with some MPs suggesting she is too inexperienced to be prime minister. She has never served in the cabinet and has only been a minister for a short time.

She has also had to deal with claims that she embellished details of her 25-year career in finance.

Mrs Leadsom’s team published a summary of her CV, after it was claimed – including by a former colleague – that her previous jobs were not as she had described them.

“I have not changed my CV,” she told the BBC as MPs voted in their final ballot of the leadership contest.

There have been claims of underhand tactics in the Tory leadership contest, after it emerged that Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s campaign manager had appealed to Mrs May’s supporters to unite in an effort to block Mrs Leadsom’s chances of getting on to the final ballot.

As she welcomed the result outside the Houses of Parliament, the Home Secretary emphasised her “proven leadership”.

Ms May said:

I am delighted to have won so much support from my colleagues. I’ve won votes from Conservative MPs from across the party, from left and right, Leavers and Remainers, MPs from the length and breadth of the country.

This vote shows that the Conservative party can come together and that under my leadership it will.

Now, I’ve always said there should be a proper contest. Now is the time for me and my team to take my case out to party members in the country.

That case is built on three things, because we need proven leadership to negotiate the best deal for leaving the European Union, to unite our party and our country, and to make Britain a country that works not for the privileged few, but for everyone.

Those are the things that my colleagues have voted in such numbers for today and I am confident that those are the things that will win support of members across the country – and indeed the whole country.

Tim Loughton, Ms Leadsom’s campaign manager, said:

We can now give the party a real choice – a Remain woman and a Leave woman who both went to state school. That’s pretty quirky for the Tory party.

We’re going to battle really hard in the country until 9 September.

Penny Mordaunt, who is also backing Ms Leadsom, said:

Andrea is fantastic, people are really getting to know her and she is a very, very strong candidate. The momentum is with her.

But Damian Green said Theresa May was the best choice to be the country’s next Prime Minister. He said:

Andrea has great qualities, but there is no doubt that Theresa is the most experienced of the two candidates by a long way and has demonstrated not just in her job, but in this election process, that she is better placed than anyone else to unite the party.

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