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New PM anointed as Leadsom quits

May to give people ‘more control over their lives’

 

Theresa May speaks outside the Commons after being confirmed as PM (BBC)

Theresa May speaks outside the Commons after being confirmed as PM (BBC)

Theresa May will move into Downing Street on Wednesday evening to begin her term as Britain’s new Prime Minister after another day of drama in Westminster.

In her first speech since her election was confirmed she pledged to build an economy that “works for everyone” and said she wanted to give people “more control over their lives…that is how we will build a better Britain.”

 

Mrs May was confirmed as David Cameron’s successor after Andrea Leadsom today quit the Conservative party leadership race, leaving the door open for Mrs May as the only candidate to become the next Prime Minister.

Mr Cameron announced in Downing Street that Mrs May will move in on Wednesday evening after he has delivered his final Prime Minister’s Questions in the afternoon.

“Obviously with these changes we do not need a long period of transition,” he said. He would be going to the Palace to offer his resignation.

Mrs May, speaking outside the Commons, said: “During this campaign my case has been based on three things. First, the case for strong, proven leadership to steer us through what will be difficult and uncertain economic and political times. The need to negotiate the best deal for Britain in leaving the EU, and to forge a new role for ourselves in the world.

“Brexit means Brexit. And we’re going to make a success of it.

“Second, we need to unite our country, and third we need a strong, new, positive vision for the future of our country. A vision of a country that works not for the privileged few but that works for every one of us. Because we’re going to give people more control over their lives.

“And that’s how, together, we will build a better Britain.”

Mrs Leadsom took Westminster by surprise at lunchtime when she issued a statement saying she did not believe she had sufficient support to lead a “strong and stable government”.

“The interests of our country are best served by the immediate appointment of a strong and well supported Prime Minister,” she said.

She thought a nine-week election campaign at this time was “undesirable” for the country and wished Mrs May the “greatest success” in implementing the Brexit decision.

Mrs Leadsom was heavily criticised over comments in a newspaper interview that being a mother gave her an advantage over Mrs May. She attempted to blame the newspaper and demanded a retraction, but her supporters condemned her comments. She made no mention of the issue in her withdrawal speech.

She also faced allegations she had exaggerated her experience working in the financial services sector.

Andrea Leadsom reads withdrawal letter (BBC)

Andrea Leadsom reads withdrawal letter (BBC)

One of her supporters, MP Steve Baker, said he was “bitterly disappointed” but said it was the best decision for the country.

Mrs May earlier launched her campaign in Birmingham (top) with a speech on equality and corporate governance reform.

But she will now be turning her attention to naming a Cabinet and whether or not to consider calling a General Election in order to secure a mandate of the electorate.

An election is thought unlikely to take place any time soon because of the need to begin negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Mrs May’s choice of Cabinet ministers will be closely watched to see how she balances the Brexit and Remain campaigners. It is thought supporters such as David Davis may get a senior position. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Sajid Javid are contenders to replace George Osborne as Chancellor. Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a leading Brexiteer, could get Mr Hammond’s job at the Foreign Office, unless that goes to Mr Cameron or Mr Osborne. Priti Patel and Justine Greening are among a number of women likely to be represented.

Markets responded positively to the news. The pound ticked up, although analysts expect the rise to be short-lived because interest rates are likely to be cut on Thursday.

London shares rose after the announcement to an 11-month high. At 4pm the FTSE 100 was trading 80 points or 1.23% higher at 6,671 while the more UK-oriented FTSE 250 was 3% higher.

However, the FTSE 100’s rise is largely a response to the gain for international companies in overseas earnings because of the slump in sterling.

Even so, it is now officially in “bull territory”, because it has risen 20% since its most recent low in February.

Over in New York the S&P 500 hit a record high following the positive jobs report last Friday.

Theresa May

Age: 59

Born in Eastbourne

Educated: St Hugh’s College, Oxford (Geography)

A vicar’s daughter, grand-daughter of a regimental sergeant major

Spent six years in banking before becoming an MP for Maidenhead in 1997

Home Secretary since 2010, longest serving in British history

She championed same sex marriage

She has been married (to Philip) since 1980

> Comment: Mum may be the word, but May wants action in the boardroom

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