Theresa May is set to become Britain’s next Prime Minister after her internal party Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the Conservative leadership race.
Ms May will likely be elected unopposed to the Conservative party leadership, subject to her formal confirmation by the Conservative party board and chairman of the Tory 1922 committee.
After her appointment she will almost certainly be appointed Prime Minister by Tory MPs, who have a majority in the House of Commons.
Ms May had been the favourite in the Tory leadership contest, which was originally due to conclude in early September.
Tory MP Graham Brady, who chairs the party’s influential 1922 committee, said he was “already in discussions” about Ms May’s confirmation.
He remained vague when asked how long it would take for the process to complete, but suggested it would be significantly accelerated. He did not rule out Ms May becoming Prime Minister by the end of the day.
“It won’t be nine weeks, let’s be very clear about that. But I think we need to get the clear views of the Conservative party board they quite properly need to be consulted, but I will make a statement as soon as I am in a position to confirm formally the new leader of the party,” he said.
Responding to criticism that the new Prime Minister had been chosen without even an internal party election, Mr Brady said : “The process is very simple, we had two candidates, one of them clearly had much stronger support in the parliamentary party, but crucially the other candidate has chosen to withdraw from the contest. I received Andrea Leadsom setting out her reasons for that.”
The Conservative leadership contest was trigged by David Cameron announcing his resignation in the wake of the European Union referendum result.
A staunch advocate of remaining in the European Union, the Prime Minister said he was not the right person to steer Britain’s depature.
He said his successor should be in place by the Conservative party’s annual conference, which will be held in October in Birmingham. That timescale was accelerated to September by the 1922 committee.
Ms May backed Remain during the European Union referendum but this morning again confirmed that she would complete Britain’s departure from the bloc.
The longest serving Home Secretary since the 19th century, Ms May will become Britain’s second woman Prime Minister, following Margaret Thatcher.