Sussex-born Theresa May looks set to become the country’s next Prime Minister on Wednesday after Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the Conservative Party leadership contest.
Mrs May, who is currently Home Secretary and was born in Eastbourne, has been the favourite to succeed David Cameron after he announced he would be standing down following the EU referendum result last month.
After Liam Fox and Michael Gove had been eliminated from the contest and Stephen Crabb had pulled out, Mrs Leadsom and Mrs May were due to face each other in the two-candidate runoff, with Conservative Party members having the final say on a new leader.
But this afternoon (Monday July 11) Mrs Leadsom felt she did not have ‘sufficient support to lead a strong and stable Government’.
She said: “The Conservative Party was elected only last year with a strong manifesto. We now need a new Prime Minister in place as soon as possible, committed to fulfilling that manifesto as well as implementing the clear instructions from the referendum.
“Theresa May carried over 60 per cent of support from the parliamentary party. She is ideally placed to implement Brexit on the best possible terms for the British people and she had promised that she will do so.”
She has already apologised to Mrs May for comments printed in the The Times at the weekend appearing to suggest that being a mother made her more suited to being PM.
Mr Cameron is due to appear at his final Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday before giving his resignation to the Queen.
Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, said: “I am a strong supporter of Theresa May and am delighted at the news that she is highly likely to be our next Prime Minister. She is absolutely the best person to lead and unite us in these difficult times.”
“Following the referendum, our country needs strong, proven leadership – to steer us through this period of economic and political uncertainty, and to negotiate the best possible terms as we leave the European Union and I believe that Theresa May is the person to do this.”
But Sir Peter Bottomley, Worthing West MP, suggested that Conservative Party members would be ‘disappointed’ not to have a role in choosing the next leader or Prime Minister.
East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton, who acted as Mrs Leadsom’s campaign manager, said he was ‘disappointed’ with her decision to step aside, but felt her reasons for doing so were ‘entirely in keeping with the high standards of integrity, generosity and loyalty that have shaped the very special person I have known for the last 35 years’.
He added: “Through Andrea’s selfless decision we can now move swiftly to restoring stability and certainty to our country with the advent of a Theresa May premiership without further delay.
“As someone who has known Theresa for longer than Andrea, as we came into Parliament together in 1997, I have experienced at first hand the strengths and character that will make her an excellent leader.
“Together with the whole Team Andrea we wish Theresa well and look forward to supporting her in whatever way required in the challenging times ahead when the whole Party and country needs to be united.”
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