Brexit candidate Andrea Leadsom has announced her withdrawal from the Conservative Party leadership race. It is understood that her only remaining rival for the top post, Theresa May, will now become the next British Prime Minister as early as this week – an assumption made by Ms Leadsom during her resignation speech.
She told TV cameras at 12:15 this afternoon: “This morning I’ve written a letter to Graham Brady the chairman of the 1922 committee” before reading out some of the letter.
She said: “I believe that in leaving the EU a bright future awaits,” before going on to stress: “The referendum result demonstrated a clear desire for change”.
She added: “Strong leadership is needed urgently,” before stating “a 9-week leadership campaign at such a critical moment for our country is highly undesirable”.
17:34 – Theresa May has said she is “honoured and humbled to have been chosen by the Conservative Party” as their next leader, paying tribute in a short announcement to the other candidates in the running, as well as to David Cameron for his time as Prime Minister.
She said her campaign for the leadership had been based on three things:
“First, the need for strong, proven leadership to steer us through what will be difficult and uncertain economic and political times; the need to negotiate the best deal for Britain in leaving the EU, and to forge a new role for ourselves in the world.
“Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it.
“Second we need to unite our country
“And third we need a strong new positive vision for the future of our country, a vision of a country that works not just for the privileged few, but that that works for everyone of us. Because we’re going to give people more control over their lives. And that’s how together we will build a better Britain.”
17:11 — Theresa May is currently addressing Conservative MPs as their new leader. She returned from Birmingham this afternoon, where she had been launching her official leadership campaign.
Breitbart London has reported on remarks made at the launch, during which she refrained from confirming that the free movement of people between Britain and the EU member states will come to an end with Brexit, despite the issue being a key plank of the Leave campaign, and failed to denounce the use of Sharia law in the UK, saying only that she had commissioned an inquiry into whether Sharia courts discriminated against women.
17:08 — Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbench MPs has announced that the party board has confirmed Theresa May as “the new leader of the Conservative Party with immediate effect.”
17:01 — There are a growing number of calls being made for a general election, after it emerged that Theresa May herself called for a general election after Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair as Prime Minister mid-term.
Read more — and vote on whether there should now be a general election — here on Breitbart London.
16:49 — Cameron appears to be pretty upbeat about the whole thing. Following his earlier announcement the BBC mic caught him humming a chipper tune — perhaps the West Wing theme tune? — while returning to Downing Street, before uttering a decisive (and thoroughly British) “Right. Good.”
David Cameron: “Thank you very much……………………doo, doo, doo, doo. Right…Good.” (The End) pic.twitter.com/Z1zHgSlkLf
— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) July 11, 2016
To those asking yes it does sound a little like the end of the West Wing theme: https://t.co/9hLcTPqKfA
— Vincent McAviney (@VinnyITV) July 11, 2016
16:31 — Not content with squabbling over their party’s leadership, Labour MPs are now arguing over whether to call for a snap general election in light of the coronation of Mrs May as Prime Minister.
Responding to comments by Jon Trickett MP this afternoon (see 13:48) calling for an election, Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, has told The Telegraph: “I’m just aghast that in an effort to shore up Jeremy Corbyn in the face of overwhelming opposition from the Parliamentary Labour Party that Jon Trickett has been foolish enough to play politics with the timing of the general election.
“It is evidently not in the interests of the Labour Party to call a general election when we can’t even muster a shadow cabinet.
“It seems as clear to everyone outside of Jeremy Corbyn’s bunker that the Labour Party isn’t an effective opposition let alone a government in waiting.
“It is time for people around Jeremy Corbyn to get serious and get out of the way so Labour is ready for the general election.”
15:50 — Michael Gove has confirmed that he has no intentions to challenge for the leadership of the Conservative Party following Mrs Leadsom’s withdrawal. In a short statement he said:
“Andrea Leadsom spoke with great dignity and courage today. I wish her every success in the future.
“We should now move as quickly as possible to ensure Theresa May can take over as leader. She has my full support as our next prime minister.”
Mr Gove was the third placed candidate at the MPs ballot stage of the leadership contest, leading to some speculation that he might move on to the ballot of two candidates due to be presented to the party’s members in September.
Boris Johnson, who was hotly favoured as the next leader before announcing his intention not to stand in the race, has also called for the process installing Mrs May as Prime Minister to begin “immediately,” adding that he has “no doubt Theresa will make an excellent party leader and Prime Minister”.
16:02 — The current Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he will be stepping down as on Wednesday afternoon, meaning that Theresa May is likely to be the new Prime Minister by that evening, — barring any unforeseen events.
Speaking on the steps of Downing Street he confirmed that he will chair his last cabinet meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) and will attend his last Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday before heading to Buckingham Palace to hand his resignation to the Queen, “so we’ll have a new Prime Minister in that building behind me by Wednesday evening.”
Mr Cameron said he was “delighted” that Mrs May will be his successor, and that he thought Andrea Leadsom made “absolutely the right decision to stand aside” as “it is clear that Theresa May has the overwhelming support of the Conservative Parliamentary Party.”
15:35 — The Chancellor George Osborne has called for Theresa May to take over as Prime Minister as soon as possible.
The economy and businesses in UK and around the world need certainty so it is in everyone’s interest Theresa takes over as PM in coming days
— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) July 11, 2016
It is not yet clear when Mrs May will take the reins from David Cameron, in part as the Queen is currently in Balmoral, Scotland, and is due to stay there until Thursday. There has been speculation over whether Mr Cameron and Mrs May have to meet with the Queen in Buckingham Palace, or whether they could fly to Scotland to seek formal permission for the handover.
15:00 — While a new leader of the Conservative party has emerged nine weeks early, the Labour party continues to scrabble with their own leadership. With unfortunate timing, Angela Eagle’s leadership bid launch took place as the national media focussed instead on the surprise withdrawal of Mrs. Leadsom from the Conservative race. Read more at Breitbart London
14:40 — Prominent Tory back-bencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has been the voice of moderation within the party today, speaking to Sky News and remarking the “divide” within the party over Europe has now been healed. Urging Conservatives to look forward, he said: “We’re going to have a leader of the party that I think all conservatives will want to support, who has said that Brexit means Brexit”.
14:10 – Andrea Leadsom’s leadership campaign chief Tim Loughton MP has released a statement on the withdrawal of Mrs Leadsom from the Conservative leadership campaign. Praising Mrs Leadsom for her “integrity, generosity and loyalty,” he slammed the smear tactics that came to shape the course of the short battle.
“Throughout our short campaign we have made it clear that we should be relentlessly focussed on the positive case for electing Andrea as Leader without the need to undermine the qualities of her opponents,” he said.
“Despite an onslaught of often very personal attacks from colleagues and journalists we have never deviated from that goal. Colleagues who have chosen to further their own ends by putting smear above respect will no doubt account for their motivations but it is genuinely puzzling to understand who they think they are helping. It is certainly not our Party or our constituents.”
He also hit out against the mainstream media over the role they played in hounding Mrs Leadsom out of the race, saying: “It is absolutely not the job of media commentators to ‘big up’ politicians whether in this leadership contest or elsewhere in politics. But neither should it be their compulsion constantly to try to trip them up. Using spin and underhand tactics against decent people whose prime motivation is to serve has for too long undermined the confidence of the public in our politics.
“This need not be inevitable. It is this much needed fresh start to how we do our politics that was to be the centre piece of Andrea’s campaign and which we must together progress whatever her role in the future.”
13:53 – The Green Party’s MP Caroline Lucas has also called for a general election to avoid the “coronation” of Theresa May, as has the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron MP.
In light of withdrawal of Andrea Leadsom, case for early General Election clearer than ever. Must not be a Prime Ministerial coronation.
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) July 11, 2016
With @TheresaMay2016‘s coronation we need an early General Election. The Tories now have no mandate. Britain deserves better than this.
— Tim Farron (@timfarron) July 11, 2016
13:48 – Labour’s election co-ordinator Jon Trickett MP has responded to the announcement by Mrs Leadsom by calling for a general election, and saying he has put his party on “general election footing.”
“It now looks likely that we are about to have the coronation of a new Conservative Prime Minister,” he said.
“It is crucial, given the instability caused by the Brexit vote, that the country has a democratically elected Prime Minister. I am now putting the whole of the party on a General Election footing. It is time for the Labour Party to unite and ensure the millions of people in the country left behind by the Tories’ failed economic policies, have the opportunity to elect a Labour government”.
Mrs May has previously ruled out the idea of a general election, but with Labour in disarray, UKIP in the midst of their own leadership contest, and the Liberal Democrats still recovering from last year’s general election wipe-out, Mrs May may see an opportunity to increase the Conservative Party’s majority in the Commons.
13:35 – Breitbart London’s editor in chief Raheem Kassam tweets:
The real question is how did @vote_leave fuck up so badly that its three candidates: Boris, Gove, and Leadsom were all ousted so quickly?
— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) July 11, 2016
13:18 – Chris Grayling MP has made a statement on behalf of Theresa May and her campaign team, paying tribute to Andrea Leadsom.
“Her actions this morning have shown what a principled and decent politician she is, and how willing she is to put the interests of the country before her own,” he said.
“Theresa is currently on her way back to London from Birmingham and she will be making a statement later today. But on her behalf I’d just like to say that she is enormously honoured to have been entrusted with this task by so many of her Parliamentary colleagues.
“As Andrea’s statement made clear this morning, now is the time for us to unite as a party and to get on with the job of doing everything we can to secure a strong, prosperous and successful future for our country. We all know that Theresa will do everything she can to equip our country for the challenges that lie ahead.”
13:05 – Nigel Farage has tweeted his ‘disappointment’ at Mrs Leadsom’s withdrawal. He had been supporting her candidacy thanks to her role in the Leave campaign during the EU referendum.
Disappointed that @andrealeadsom has decided to withdraw from the Conservative leadership contest.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) July 11, 2016
13:01 – The Chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbench MPs has made the following statement:
Following the withdrawal of Andrea Leadsom from the Conservative Party leadership contest, he said “The right honourable Theresa May is the only remaining candidate.
“The process is that I as Chairman of the 1922 committee and the board of the Conservative Party must formally confirm that Mrs May is the new leader of the Conservative Party.
“I will make a further statement as soon as I am in a position to do so.”
He added that “the voluntary party will be seeking to get answers from the party board during the course of this afternoon.”
On whether Theresa May would become Prime Minister today he said: “we need to respect the process; there are constitutional things which need to be followed as well as the party’s own procedures but clearly we are going to be in a position to answer those questions much sooner than we previously anticipated.”
He said he was not sure how many days it would take to confirm Mrs May as Prime Minister, but said “it won’t be nine weeks, we know that.”
Mr Brady also confirmed that the party won’t be re-opening the field to candidates, saying: “There is no need to re-run the election. Our procedures are very clear. The rules are very clear. We will be in a position to move forward quite quickly.”
But he refused to confirm that Ms May would automatically become Prime Minister, saying it was “subject to the procedures of the party board.”
12:46 – The Queen is in Scotland today, and Theresa May is on her way to London from Birmingham. So there may not be a new Prime Minister today.
Original story follows:
She said “business needs certainty” and that “a strong and unified government must move quickly”.
Her campaign supporter Iain Duncan Smith lamented that the Theresa May campaign had made the campaign too divisive, and said that Ms. Leadsom was putting the interests of a united Conservative Party first.
Mr. Duncan Smith said he was “appalled” by the tactic of demonising Ms. Leadsom for answering repeated questions from Times journalists about motherhood.
When asked by The Time‘s Rachel Sylvester: “Does your family inform your politics? Do you think motherhood – I thought it was very interesting during the debates you several times said, as a mum. Do you feel like a mum in politics?”, Mrs Leadsom replied: “Yes.
“Really carefully because I am sure Theresa will be really sad she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t’, do you know what I mean? Because I think that would be really horrible.
“But genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake. She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people, but I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.”
The Times presented her remarks on the front page as “Being a mother gives me an edge on May – Leadsom”
Leadsom said “It is also essential that current EU workers in the UK and the businesses that employ them know where they stand” before going on to speak about her opponent Theresa May.
“Theresa May carries over 60 per cent of support from the parliamentary party… she is ideally placed to implement Brexit… she has promised that she will do so”.
She closed: “After careful consideration I do not believe [25 per cent of support of MPs] is sufficient support to lead a strong and stable government should I win the leadership election”.
She added: “I have however concluded that the interest of our country are best served by the immediate appointment of a strong and well supported prime minister. I am therefore withdrawing from the leadership election… I assure [Theresa May] of my full support”.