Conservative Members of Parliament have voted in the second round under party rules to select the two candidates who will go forward, choosing Home Secretary Theresa May and Minister of State for Energy Andrea Leadsom.
Michael Gove had been in the race this morning, but dropping his vote share to just 46 among members of the parliamentary party means he has now been knocked out of the competition. In this round Andrea Leadsom increased her vote to 84, and Theresa May got 199, over half of all Conservative members of parliament.
While this has been claimed to be a sound endorsement of the pro-EU Ms. May by Conservative MPs, Leadsom may yet still find favour with the more predominantly Eurosceptic membership of the Conservative party.
The South Northamptonshire MP was little known before the closing stages of the Brexit campaign, in which she campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union. She is the only candidate who has called for Article 50 to be triggered immediately, beginning the formal process of Britain leaving the European Union.
The result confirms that excepting unforeseen circumstance, the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will be a woman. Exactly who will now be decided by ordinary members of the Conservative party, who will now have an opportunity to vote on their preferred candidate leading up to the Conservative party conference in October.
That the Conservative party will have in two months time have given the United Kingdom two female prime ministers while the notionally more progressive Labour party has only been led by men has already been picked up by some, including Labour MP Jess Phillips who said her party should be “ashamed” at the fact.
So the next Prime Minister will be a Tory woman. The Labour Party should be ashamed
— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) July 7, 2016
Knocked-out candidate Michael Gove seemed unfazed by the vote when he faced the cameras this afternoon. Ignoring questions on the “dirty tricks” being employed by Nick Boles on his behalf this morning before the vote, which may have contributed to his fall in support, Mr. Gove said: “I am naturally disappointed that I haven’t been able to make it through to the final round of this leadership contest.
“But let me first of all congratulate both candidates who have made it through. Both Theresa May and Andrea Leadom are formidable politicians who fought great campaigns, and they deserve to be in the final two. And there is one thing that is significant, and actually welcome. Whoever the next Prime Minister of this country will be, it will be a female prime minister”.
Watch Michael Gove's speech after being eliminated in the second round of the Conservative leadership contest https://t.co/1EpFDfDBoc
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 7, 2016