Another day, another drama in UK politics as media outlets struggle to keep up with the ever-shifting landscape. Theresa May is now set to assume leadership of her party, and the country, after fellow Tory politico Andrea Leadsom’s unexpected decision to quit the Conservative Party’s contest. May is now poised to become the UK’s second female Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher.
Leadsom’s unexpected ankling came after she was blasted by colleagues for suggesting in an interview with Rupert Murdoch’s The Times newspaper she was better suited to lead the country on account of her having children. May, the UK’s longest-serving home secretary, does not have children, a matter believed to be of personal distress to her and her husband.
The events leave May as the last politico standing in the vote to elect a new Conservative Party leader with speculation already rife that she may be installed as prime minister as early as Wednesday evening. That is a significant acceleration of current PM David Cameron’s departure from the anticipated September date as first set out in his post-Brexit vote resignation speech, delivered less than three weeks ago in what now seems like a lifetime. The breakneck speed of events — Leadsom’s Times interview was barely 48 hours old — inadvertently puts Murdoch and his print empire at the heart of British politics once more.
In her speech Monday, Leadsom made no mention of The Times article and its role in sensationalizing her quotes — she had previously been quoted as saying she was “disgusted” by them — but sought to back May as leader-in-waiting. The coronation of May, however, has now led to opposition politicians from the Labour and Liberal Democat parties calling on May to announce a general election given the absence of a more rigorous leadership contest, particularly as the next Prime Minister will be tasked with leading the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
On the other side of the fence, Labour MP Angela Eagle officially launched her bid to replace incumbent leader Jeremy Corbyn, leaving the party looking ahead to a summer of further disarray.