Britain to Get Second Woman Premier

Britain to Get Second Woman Premier
Britain to Get Second Woman Premier

Britain is on course to get its second female prime minister, after Conservative lawmakers chose Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom on Thursday to fight a runoff contest for leadership of the country’s governing party.

The race pits a stalwart of the center-right government, May, against a rising star of the party’s right. The winner will become the first woman to lead Britain since Margaret Thatcher, who governed from 1979 to 1990, transforming the country with her staunchly free-market policies, AP reported.

May received 199 votes in a ballot of Conservative members of Parliament, while Leadsom received 84. Justice Secretary Michael Gove got 46 votes and was eliminated from the race.

Some 150,000 Conservative Party members will now vote by postal ballot on the two candidates, with the result announced on Sept. 9.

The winner will replace Prime Minister David Cameron who announced his resignation after Britain voted last month to leave the European Union.

May, the government’s formidable interior minister, is the bookies’ favorite to defeat Leadsom, a legislator who emerged as a star of the victorious “leave” campaign in Britain’s EU referendum. May supported the “remain” camp but says she has the mettle to unite a party that—like the country—is divided over the referendum result.

The new leader will be responsible for leading Britain’s exit negotiations with the 28-nation EU as well as helping to steady the country’s government and economy, which has been deeply shaken by markets’ reaction to the EU vote.