TM set for PM as Leadsom quits Tory race
Just when it seemed UK politics couldn’t get any stranger, it has.
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the Tory leadership contest today.
Friends said she had been shocked at the “abuse” hurled at her in newspapers and on social media following an interview in which she suggested she would make a good prime minister because she has children.
The pro-Brexit right winger had also been accused of embellishing her CV detailing a finance career in the City – a claim she rejected.
Home Secretary Theresa May, who was unable to have children, is now the sole candidate to replace David Cameron as prime minister and is expected to move into Number Ten within days to take charge of Britain’s EU exit negotiations.
The faint chance that the nine-week leadership contest might continue with Michael Gove drafted in as a replacement candidate for Mrs Leadsom ended when Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee responsible for organising the contest, confirmed that Mrs May will be the new party leader subject to approval from the Conservative party board.
Announcing her decision to step down outside of her London house, Mrs Leadsom said the EU referendum had shown a clear desire for change and strong leadership with a unified government.
Pointing out that Mrs May has the overwhelming support of Tory MPs, Mrs Leadsom said the Home Secretary was best placed to lead Brexit negotiations.
She did not believe there would be sufficient support for her among Conservative MPs to lead the government.
The best interests of the country would be served by the “immediate appointment” of Mrs May as prime minister.
Mrs May, who launched her leadership campaign in Birmingham today, said that Mrs Leadsom had apologised to her for the remarks about mothers making the best leaders.
Mrs May, who voted “reluctantly” for Britain to remain in the EU, was at pains to insist “Brexit means Brexit” and she would negotiate the best possible deal for the UK if she became prime minister.
She added that there would be opportunities from Brexit, but the current free movement of people from Europe into Britain would have to come to an end.
In a ‘One Nation’ manifesto that some commentators said owed more to Labour’s Ed Miliband than to traditional Conservative thought, Mrs May promised to pursue tax-dodging companies, curb executive pay, and install employees on company boards.
Mrs May has the overwhelming support of Conservative MPs, and many had urged Mrs Leadsom to quit the leadership race, claiming that she is too inexperienced to be prime minister.
The Home Secretary cut short her national leadership tour after being told of Mrs Leadsom’s decision and returned to London.
The dramatic events in the Tory leadership contest cut across the Labour party’s difficulties. Angela Eagle announced her decision to stand against Jeremy Corbyn minutes after Mrs Leadsom’s intention to stand down became clear.
Ms Eagle told supporters “these are dark times” for Labour and the country.
The country had never needed so much a strong Labour party to hold “this right wing government to account”.
Declaring herself to be “a strong Labour woman” and a “practical socialist”, proud of her country, she wanted all people to have a chance “wherever they come from”.
Ms Eagle said: “I stand for hope, not grievance. I’m a practical socialist, driven by a strong set of values, who wants to get things done.”
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