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May Wins First Round of Voting to Choose New British PM

Theresa May, the UK home secretary won the first round as the Conservative party began voting to choose, who will succeed David Cameron as the British Prime Minister.

Press Trust Of India

Updated:July 6, 2016, 12:49 PM IST
May Wins First Round of Voting to Choose New British PM
British Home Secretary and leadership candidate for Britain's ruling Conservative Party Theresa May arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London (AP)

London: United Kingdom home secretary Theresa May won the first round as the Conservative party began voting on Wednesday to choose a new party leader who will go on to succeed David Cameron as the British Prime Minister.

May was the clear frontrunner in the race and bagged 165 votes in the first round, which resulted in the first elimination of a candidate with the least votes, which was former defence minister Liam Fox with just 16 votes.

Work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb, who secured just 34 votes, announced he was dropping out of the race soon after and threw his support behind May, who said she was "pleased" with Wednesday's result.

Fox also backed May, saying she would make a "wonderful" Prime Minister.

"I am the only candidate capable of delivering these three things as prime minister, and tonight it is clear that I am also the only one capable of drawing support from the whole of the Conservative Party," May said.

This just leaves UK energy minister Andrea Leadsom, who bagged 66 votes, and UK justice secretary Michael Gove with 48 votes still in the race for the second round of voting on Thursday.

They had both campaigned vehemently in favour of Brexit, as opposed to May's backing of Cameron's remain camp.

Cameron, who had campaigned for a remain vote, had announced he would be stepping down for a new Prime Minister to take the negotiations for Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) forward after Britain voted 52 to 48% in favour of leaving the economic bloc.

The Tory party's 330 MPs will vote in a further round next Tuesday until the two final candidates remain for Conservative party's members to choose from and the winner will be named on September 9 to replace Cameron.

On Tuesday, the candidates had the chance to make their case to be the next Conservative leader during a parliamentary hustings.

May, who had campaigned to stay in the European Union, had emerged in the lead among her colleagues with support from 35% of the parliamentary Conservative Party and went on to bag 50% of the vote on Wednesday.

A Times/YouGov survey on Wednesday also put her ahead in the race, suggesting she would triumph by a 32 point margin if she went head-to-head with Leadsom in the final round.

According to the survey, the tough talking politician is favoured as the strongest leader (63%), the one able to make the toughest decisions (58%) and also the unifying candidate in this vote (61%).

In reference to Brexit, 44% of those surveyed said they thought May would get the best deal from the European Union, compared to a quarter who sided with Leadsom and 16% with Gove.

The bookmakers also predict that it will be May who is most likely to be the next British prime minister.

However, with the bookies forecasting a remain win in the referendum on June, their predictions are not likely to be seen as very reliable this time.

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