Theresa May set to become new UK prime minister as rival quits race

Junior minister Andrea Leadsom said on Monday she was pulling out of the race against interior minister Theresa May to become Britain’s next prime minister because she did not have “sufficient support” to form a strong government. “There is no greater privilege than to lead the Conservative Party in government and I would have been deeply honoured to do it,” she told journalists. “I have however concluded that the interests of our country are best served by the immediate appointment of a strong and well-supported prime minister.” Her surprise decision leaves the way clear for the home secretary to be anointed leader well before the summer recess.

Theresa May carries over 60% of support from the Parliamentary party. She is ideally placed to implement Brexit on the best possible terms for the British people and she has promised that she will do so.

Andrea Leadsom

Mrs Leadsom said she was pulling out of the contest shortly after apologising to her rival over an interview in which she appeared to suggest the fact that she was a mother gave her the edge over the childless Mrs May. The energy minister - who entered Parliament in 2010 and has never held a Cabinet post - admitted that she had been “shattered” by the experience of intensive media scrutiny, which also involved questions about apparent inaccuracies on her CV and demands for her to publish her tax returns. She is the last of the Brexit champions to quit, after Michael Gove scuppered former London mayor Boris Johnson’s bid.

In the coming weeks I will set out (how) to take our economy through this period of uncertainty, to get the economy growing strongly across all parts, to deal with Britain’s long-standing productivity problem, to create more well-paid jobs, to negotiate the best terms for Britain’s departure from the EU and to forge a new role for ourselves in the world.

Theresa May outlining her vision an hour before Mrs Leadsom quit