A vote by Conservative MPs on the three remaining candidates to become Prime Minister has just taken place. The result is that Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom will remain as the two final candidates that Conservative members will have to choose between, with Michael Gove having been eliminated.
May secured the backing of a clear majority of MPs (199 out of 330) giving her their vote. Leadsom came second with 84 votes, and Michael Gove got just 46 votes.
Despite May’s greater success with Conservative MPs, it is impossible to tell who will go on to be Prime Minister. In the two previous Conservative leadership contests under this system, the Conservative membership went against the vote of Conservative MPs, choosing Ian Duncan Smith and David Cameron instead of Kenneth Clarke and David Davis.
Given Leadsom’s role in the Leave Campaign, her supporters will hope that the Conservative grassroots are looking for a “Brexit Prime Minister”. Their principle argument for why Leadsom should be Prime Minister is essentially that she supported the winning side of the referendum campaign. They argue Britain should be led by someone who believed in a bright future for Britain outside the EU as it negotiates its exit from the EU with European leaders.
Meanwhile, Theresa May will hope that her greater experience in government will lead to the membership considering her to be a more suitable candidate for Prime Minister. She will want the membership to choose its preferred candidate based on which one is the “safe pair of hands”.
The vote will close on September the 9th.