One of two candidates to become the U.K.’s next prime minister has withdrawn from the race, leaving Theresa May in line to be the country’s next leader.
Andrea Leadsom announced Monday she is backing out of the contest, citing the strong support for her opponent May and saying it was in Britain’s best interests for the next leader to be put in place quickly.
And it looks like that will happen quickly indeed. Now that the race is uncontested, current Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he will resign by Wednesday evening, according to wire reports. Once he steps down, May will take over at 10 Downing St.
Leadsom’s announcement comes after uproar over comments she made suggesting she would be a better prime minister than May because she’s a mother, while May is not.
As we’ve reported, Prime Minister Cameron is resigning after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union — a decision he was firmly opposed to. Leadsom campaigned for that departure; May was in the “remain” camp, but has said as prime minister she would carry out the Brexit.
Five candidates put their names forward to replace Cameron as the head of the Conservative Party and thus the next prime minister. In a twist, that list did not include Boris Johnson, who had been presumed to be a front-runner; he dropped out after one of his close allies surprised him by running.
The Conservative members of Parliament then narrowed the field down to two candidates, May and Leadsom, with May supported by significantly more MPs. The final decision between the two was going to be in the hands of party members.
NPR’s Frank Langfitt explained that Theresa May is the U.K.’s home secretary, “which means she deals with things like immigration, domestic security. She’s 59 years old, seen also as steady, if unexciting kind of hand. But right now, given what’s been going on in British politics, unexciting sounds very appealing to people — a little bit of certainty, not the circus that we had, certainly in the last few days.”
Leadsom is a former banker, noteworthy for her passionate support for the U.K. leaving the EU, Frank explains.
She’s the latest in a series of Brexit supporters who have passed up or resigned prominent leadership posts.
Johnson, who declined to run for prime minister, was a major Brexit campaigner. And Nigel Farage, the outspoken leader of the U.K. Independence Party, resigned from that role last week, saying, “I’ve done my bit.”