×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Britain Set to Have Its Second Female Prime Minister

Britain is on track to have its second female leader after the ruling Conservative Party narrowed down its choice of someone to succeed outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron to two women.

Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom emerged Thursday as the two leading candidates to take over Cameron’s job in September. Cameron announced his resignation two weeks ago, just hours after British voters went against his advice and chose to withdraw the country from the European Union in a close-run referendum.

May, 59, is the clear frontrunner, earning the most votes – 199 – in a balloting of Conservative lawmakers that concluded Thursday. The lesser-known Leadsom was, to some observers, a surprise second-place finisher with 84 votes, easily beating out Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who garnered 46 votes and who was therefore eliminated from the race.

The contest now shifts to the Conservative Party rank and file, the 150,000 card-carrying party members whose votes will determine their next leader and thus prime minister. The winner between May and Leadsom will be announced Sept. 9.

Either way, Britain will have only its second female leader in history. The first was Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, also a Conservative, who held the office from 1979 to 1990 – Britain’s longest-serving leader of the 20th century.

May, who supported Britain’s continued membership in the E.U. but did not campaign prominently for the “Remain” side in the referendum, has stressed her experience as a senior Cabinet member. As home secretary, she is responsibility for public security, immigration and other domestic affairs.

“We need proven leadership to negotiate the best deal for leaving the European Union, to unite our party and our country, and to make Britain a country that works not for the privileged few but for everyone,” May told reporters and cheering supporters Thursday.

Leadsom, 53, who worked in high finance before becoming a member of Parliament, was little-known by the general public before becoming one of the highest-profile advocates for Britain’s pullout from the E.U. She insists that, in light of the referendum result, the next prime minister should be someone who supported the Brexit side, but she has been hit by accusations that she exaggerated her career on her official résumé.

Relegation to third place was a comedown for Gove, 48, who had been considered May’s strongest challenger. His entry into the race threw the Conservatives into a dither last week, because it effectively torpedoed the ambitions of former London Mayor Boris Johnson to succeed Cameron. As the star campaigner for Britain’s exit from the E.U., Johnson was widely expected to gallop to the premiership, but Gove, his fellow Brexit campaigner, withdrew his support for Johnson and threw his own hat into the ring.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Barron HiltonBarron Hilton 1990

    Famed Hotelier Barron Hilton Dies at 91

    Barron Hilton, a famed hotelier who helped expand the Hilton Hotels empire and a founding owner of the Chargers NFL football team, has died, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced. He was 91. “Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats. Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist. [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content