A Parliamentary vote Thursday booted Britain’s Justice Secretary Michael Gove from the Conservative Party's elections for the country’s next prime minister, leaving Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom as the final two contenders for David Cameron’s seat.
Whether May or Leadsom wins the final vote in September, it is now confirmed that the next prime minister will be a woman—the first since Margaret Thatcher and the Parliament’s second female leader in its history.
The ballot of Conservative MPs Thursday saw 199 votes for May, 84 for Leadsom, and 46 for Gove, thereby eliminating Gove from the race only one week after he entered it. A ballot with Leadsom and May’s names will be mailed to the 150,000 some Conservative Party members and results will be announced Sept. 9.
So, who are these women that could lead the parliament of America’s closest ally?
May, 59 years old, joined Parliament in 1997 and has been home secretary since 2010. She supported the campaign to remain in the European Union, but promised to exit the EU after the ‘Leave’ side won the country-wide referendum.
“Brexit means Brexit,” May said. “There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the backdoor and no second referendum.”
IJ Review reported that May is “more conservative” than Cameron and is “a stringent critic of EU-immigration policy.” She argues that the high rate of immigration has affected “national cohesion.”
Leadsom, 53 years old, has been in Parliament since 2010 and is considered less experienced than May. She has never held a Cabinet position before, but is staunchly in favor of Brexit—something that could draw party support.
“We need to get on with it,” she told BBC.
Leadsom “is in favor of austerity measures to reign in British debt, and is opposed to tax increases whenever possible,” IJ Review reported. “She also supports reducing carbon dioxide emissions within the UK.”
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, one of the chief proponents of Brexit, and London Mayor Boris Johnson both have endorsed Leadsom. Despite this, May is heavily favored by betting agencies to win the position.
Thatcher, the country’s first female prime minister, served from 1979 to 1990.