Home secretary Theresa May dominated the first round of election for the next Conservative leader and prime minister on Tuesday evening, polling 165 votes from 331 party MPs, placing her well ahead in the election whose winner will be announced in early September.
Of the five candidates, Liam Fox polled the least votes – 16 – which eliminated him from the next round of polling to be held on Thursday. The candidate with the least number of votes in each round gets eliminated until there are two candidates left.
The winner among the final two candidates will be decided by members of the Conservative party through a postal ballot. The vacancy has been caused by David Cameron resigning as the party leader and prime minister after the June 23 Brexit vote.
Besides May, there were three candidates: Andrea Leadsom (who polled 66 votes), Michael Gove (48) and Stephen Crabb (34). But after the results were declared, Crabb pulled out from the election and extended his support to May.
Fox, now out of the race, also extended his support to May. Gove said he will not withdraw from the race, but given Leadsom’s second position, the shortlist of two is likely to have both women: May and Leadsom - making it a distinct possibility that Britain will have another woman prime minister after Margaret Thatcher.
Delighted with the result, May said: “There is a big job before us: to unite our party and the country, to negotiate the best possible deal as we leave the EU, and to make Britain work for everyone.”
“I am the only candidate capable of delivering these three things as prime minister, and tonight it is clear that I am also the only one capable of drawing support from the whole of the Conservative party,” she added.