Theresa May set to become Britain's second female prime minister

Conservative Party officials say that a formal process will take place to confirm MP Theresa May as the new leader of the party, and the country's new prime minister.

Chris Radburn/PA/AP
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May officially launches her campaign to become prime minister in Birmingham, England, Monday.

Theresa May is poised to become the next prime minister of Britain, thanks to the withdrawal of her only opponent, Andrea Leadsom, from the Conservative leadership race on Monday. 

The head of the committee running the contest, Graham Brady, said it and the party board will meet soon before formally confirming Ms. May as the winner of the race and Britain's next prime minister. She will replace Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resigning after British voters ignored his advice last month and voted to leave the European Union. 

When asked by the Associated Press whether May would be declared leader by the end of the day, Mr. Brady replied, "It won't take nine weeks," alluding to the time the race was supposed to last. 

Ms. Leadsom, who withdrew due to a lack of "sufficient support," attracted negative media attention this weekend after her comments in an interview with The Times of London about the role of motherhood in politics. She is a mother; May is not.

"I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake," Leadsom said. She later accused the newspaper of practicing "gutter journalism" and twisting her words. On Monday, she told the Daily Telegraph that she believes being a mother has "no bearing on the ability to be a PM." 

May will be the second female prime minister of Britain, following only Margaret Thatcher. In a speech on Monday, she vowed to "make sure that we leave the European Union" and described her vision for "a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few."

Now, both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are calling for an early general election. 

"It is simply inconceivable that Theresa May should be crowned prime minister without even having won an election in her own party, let alone the country," said Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, in a statement Monday. "May has not set out an agenda, and has no right to govern. She has not won an election and the public must have their say."

Minutes before Leadsom's withdrawal announcement, opposition Labour lawmaker Angela Eagle, the former shadow business secretary, announced that she would challenge current leader Jeremy Corbyn for leadership of the party. 

"I would not do this if I did not think I could be a good prime minister for Britain," she said. "These are dark times for Labour. And they are dangerous times for our country."

This report contains material from the Associated Press. 

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