The next British prime minister will be a woman. The race for who will replace David Cameron as the U.K.’s leader narrowed to two names Thursday: Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom.
May and Leadsom will face off to become the next leader of the Conservative Party after a ballot Thursday eliminated the Secretary of State Justice Michael Gove. May finished ahead of Leadsom with 199 votes compared to 84, the BBC reported.
Cameron announced his resignation after unsuccessfully campaigning for Britain to vote "remain" in the June 23 referendum that asked voters whether the U.K. should stay in the European Union. Members of the 150,000-strong Conservative Party will decide the final vote on Sept. 9 and whoever wins will become the U.K.’s second female prime minister. Margaret Thatcher was the first in 1979.
May, 59, who has served as home secretary since 2010, has a long track record in government. She campaigned for the “remain” vote in the referendum. Leadsom supported the “leave” campaign.
If elected, May would be tasked with the difficult job of negotiating the U.K.’s exit from the EU. Despite having supported the “remain” side, May is seen as a unifying candidate who was not as visible during the chaotic Brexit campaign.
After Thursday’s vote, May promised she would provide “strong, proven leadership” and promised to make Britain a strong country for everyone, not just privileged elites.
May, an Oxford-educated politician who is a member of parliament for Maidenhead west of London, has worked at the Bank of England, the Association for Payment Clearing Services and acted as a senior advisor on international affairs. She was elected as a member of parliament in 1997. She became the first female chair of the Conservative Party in 2002.
Leadsom, 53, was visible throughout the Brexit campaign. She was elected as a member of parliament for South Northamptonshire County in 2010 and has emphasized her business background in banking and finance ahead of the September vote.
She said Thursday, “No one needs to fear our decision to leave the EU.”