Britain to have its second female PM

Conservative MPs have voted for who they want to be their next leader. The result sees Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom remain as the final two candidates, with Michael Gove having been eliminated from the contest. Conservative members will will vote to decide which of the two remaining candidates will become leader.

May secured the backing of a clear majority of MPs (199 out of 330) giving her their vote. Leadsom came second with 84 votes. Michael Gove got just 46 votes.

Who will the membership vote for?

Despite May’s greater success with Conservative MPs, it is impossible to tell who will go on to become party leader and Prime Minister. In the two previous Conservative leadership contests under this system, the membership went against the vote of MPs. (They voted for Ian Duncan Smith and David Cameron, when MPs had voted for 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 believes in Brexit as it negotiates its exit from the EU.

Meanwhile, Theresa May will hope that her greater experience in government will make her seem the better qualified candidate. Her pitch to the membership: choose a “safe pair of hands”.

The vote will close on September the 9th.