After her main competition pulled out of the election on Monday, Theresa May will officially step in as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom this week, The Washington Post reports.
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom ran against May in the race to win the prime minister seat. However, that lasted all of 12 days before she suddenly abandoned her campaign, likely due to a series of bad political flukes. In one recent misstep, Leadsom faced serious backlash following an interview she gave last week to The Times, in which she claimed she had a larger “stake” in Brexit than May did because she has children. Many saw this as a pointed criticism of May’s childlessness.
In a statement Monday, Leadsom stated that “strong leadership is needed urgently to begin the work of withdrawing from the European Union…I am therefore withdrawing from the leadership election and I wish Theresa May the very greatest success.” Logically, a difficult and hard-fought battle to decide on a new prime minister is the last thing Britons need after the Brexit decision.
The shift in political leadership is happening much more quickly than expected. The race for prime minister was scheduled to continue throughout the summer and eventually be determined on September 9th. However, with Leadsom’s exit from the race, the transition is happening immediately. We can only expect that this sped-up power shift means that the UK’s official breakup with the EU is imminent. With Prime Minister David Cameron and his pro-EU stance officially out of office, there’s not much that will stop the nation from leaving the EU for real.
Although May previously stood against Brexit under Cameron’s leadership, she’s promised the British people that there would not be another referendum or a backdoor attempt to rejoin the EU. “Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it,” said May, according to Reuters. “As prime minister, I will make sure that we leave the European Union.”
When May takes office on Wednesday, she will do so without a vote from the general public—only Conservative majority lawmakers could vote on the replacement prime minister, making May’s rise to power that much more unique. She will also be the first female prime minister that the UK has seen since Margaret Thatcher stepped down from the position in 1990.
The shift in power has been a whirlwind process, but the nation seems confident that May will do a great job leading the UK through this time of tremendous change. She even has overwhelming support from Cameron, who publicly stated, “I’m delighted that Theresa May will be the next prime minister. She is strong, she is competent, she is more than able to provide the leadership that our country is going to need in the years ahead, and she will have my full support.”