- Britain’s home secretary, Theresa May, will become prime minister on Wednesday, David Cameron has said, after her only remaining rival for the Conservative Party leadership withdrew from the contest.
- Andrea Leadsom, the incumbent energy minister, said a two-month leadership election at this “critical time” for Britain would be undesirable.
- Britons voted two weeks ago in a referendum to leave the European Union.
- The opposition Labour Party is due to have its own leadership contest. Angela Eagle has said she will challenge Jeremy Corbyn.
Like Cameron, May wanted Britain to stay in the European Union. But she was seen as a reluctant “remainer” and someone who could unite the liberal and conservative wings of the party after a bruising referendum campaign.
Leadsom was the last “Brexit” candidate standing after the more prominent leaders of the leave campaign, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, eliminated each other.
She wasn’t well known outside the parliamentary party, however, and clearly not ready for prime time. In an interview with The Times last week, she suggested she would make a better prime minister than May because she’s a mother and that gives her a “real stake” in Britain’s future.
May has been unable to have children.
Graham Brady, chair of the backbenchers’ 1922 Committee that organized the leadership contest, says it is clear Theresa May is the new leader of the party.
He won’t say exactly when May will take Cameron’s place, but he rules out reopening the contest and says the party will be “moving forward in the national interest”.
I never got around to writing down my thoughts on Leadsom’s candidacy. I fully agree with Matthew d’Ancona’s latest column in The Guardian, though. She would have been a step back for the party. Not only did Leadsom campaign for Britain to leave the EU; she voted against marriage equality and argued against immigration. It’s no wonder she received the support from the United Kingdom Independence Party. Their vision of Britain is a country that hasn’t existed for decades.
May is not exactly a liberal either, but, as I argued last week, she does offer calm and serious leadership at a time when Britain needs it.
As one leadership contest ends, another one begins.
Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, says he has received a sufficient number of nominations to trigger a contest for the Labour Party leadership. Angela Eagle announced on Sunday she would challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the position.
The party’s National Executive Committee is due to decide tomorrow if Corbyn, as the incumbent leader, also needs nominations from his fellow lawmakers to stand or if he would be on the ballot automatically.
The question now is when will May take Cameron’s place?
The end of the day seems a bit rushed and there are Prime Minister’s Questions scheduled for Wednesday. That seems like a good opportunity for Cameron to bid his farewell. Then May could be in place before the end of the week.
Matthew d’Ancona, whom I quoted earlier, writes that by withdrawing Leadsom has saved herself and her party from (at best) two months of hustings at the end of which Theresa May emerged victorious or (at worst) an historic mistake for party and country.
Britain is about to negotiate its exit from the European Union and thus redefine its geopolitical role and commercial position. This is no time for a novice.
Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, has endorsed May, writing in The Telegraph newspaper that she can go toe to toe with Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s separatist leader.
Davidson and Sturgeon both campaigned for Britain to stay in the EU. Now that it’s leaving, they find themselves on opposite sides again: Davidson wants Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom; Sturgeon and the SNP are expected to call another independence referendum in the next couple of years.
Just before she learned Leadsom had withdrawn from the leadership contest, May told her supporters in Birmingham she wanted to built a Britain “that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.”
May argued that last month’s vote for leave the EU was a wakeup call to leaders in business as well as in politics, too many of whom “still don’t get it,” she said.
She lamented, “There isn’t much job security out there,” and took aim at the “growing gap between what [some] companies pay their workers and what they pay their bosses.”
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David Cameron has said he expects the new prime minister to be in place Wednesday evening.
I speculated as much a few hours ago: Wednesday will be Cameron’s last Prime Minister’s Questions then.
Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it.
Theresa May made brief remarks outside Parliament in which she thanked the Conservative Party for entrusting her with the leadership and reiterated her theme from earlier today, that Britain must work for everyone, “not just the privileged few.”