Closed Tory leadership race as it happened – May and Leadsom make the final two

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Theresa May, the home secretary, and pro-Brexit campaigner Andrea Leadsom, are through to the final two in the race to be the next Conservative leader.

Michael Gove was eliminated in the final round of voting at Westminster.

The two leading candidates will now be presented to 125,000 party members to make the final choice for their new party leader who will replace David Cameron as prime minister

Key points

  • May won the votes of 199 out of 330 Tory MPs in the second round of voting

  • Leadsom came second with 84

  • Gove was eliminated after coming third with 46

  • The result of the members’ ballot is due by September 9


Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of the final round of voting by Conservative MPs for their preferred candidate to lead their party and by default take over as prime minister of the UK from David Cameron. The result is expected at to be announced at 16:30 BST.


There has been a lot of speculation around that some of the supporters of front-runner Theresa May were going to vote tactically for Michael Gove to ensure he rather than Andrea Leadsom makes it on to the final shortlist of two.

Mrs May, the home secretary, has asked her backers not to do so after it emerged that Nick Boles, Mr Gove’s campaign manager, wrote to Mrs May’s supporters urging them to lend their support to the justice secretary. Here’s the story by the FT’s political editor George Parker from earlier.


On Tuesday, Mrs May won the votes of 165 out of 330 Tory MPs and that support could rise towards 200 on Thursday.

The FT’s political editor George Parker reports that some MPs are privately hoping that Mrs May’s support could be so overwhelming that the second placed candidate might withdraw, allowing an immediate “coronation” and ending post-Brexit uncertainty.


Andrea Leadsom, one of the other contenders, has been dogged in recent days about questions on the veracity of her CV.

Mrs Leadsom has amended her CV in recent days after claims from former colleagues that she had exaggerated her roles at Barclays and Invesco Perpetual.

She refused to answer questions on the issue when asked earlier today.


Journalists are currently piled into one of the committee rooms awaiting the outcome, as the picture on this tweet from one of the BBC’s reporters shows:

https://twitter.com/BBCPeterH/status/751072471030198272


Results are out: Leadsom and May are through to the members ballot. Gove is outEmoticon


The details of the voting are as follows:
Theresa May – 199 votes
Andrea Leadsom – 84
Michael Gove 46


Theresa May gives a brief comment after the result: “This vote shows that the party can come together . . .” to cries of “here, here” from the MPs supporting her who are lined up behind her.


This means that either way, Britain is about to have its second female prime minister


Mrs May will now face the challenge of converting her huge lead in the ballot of MPs into votes from the 125,000 party members around the country. Mrs May has been home secretary since 2010 and has been in parliament since 1997.


Jim Pickard, the FT’s chief political correspondent, caught the whole of Mrs May’s short speech to camera:

I am delighted to have won so much support from my colleagues. This vote shows that the Conservative Party can come together – and under my leadership it will.

I have said all along that this election needs to be a proper contest. And now it is time for me – and my team – to put my case to the Conservative Party membership.

That case comes down to three things. Because we need strong, proven leadership to negotiate the best deal for Britain as we leave the European Union, to unite our Party and our country, and to make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.

Those are the things my colleagues have voted for in overwhelming numbers today, and I am confident they will win the support of our members – and the support of the country as a whole.


Tim Loughton, one of Andrea Leadsom’s supporters, tells the BBC:

Theresa May has got a serious threat on her hands but isn’t fantastic that we have such strong candidates and both candidates are women

He describes Mrs Leadsom as the “real deal” and as he has done previously, highlights her business career before becoming an MP in 2010.


Mr Loughton, along other Leadsom supporters, also hits out at what he calls a smear campaign about his preferred candidate’s career in the City before politics.

The FT’s George Parker filed this story earlier.


Seb Payne reports that prominent Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg is now behind Leadsom’s bid

https://twitter.com/SebastianEPayne/status/751078690704986112



Interesting point about previous Tory leadership contests that will give Theresa May some pause for thought:

https://twitter.com/GuidoFawkes/status/751079277412683776


Although at least one of the bookies doesn’t see much of a threat to May. William Hill has installed the home secreatry as hot favourite at 1/5 or an 83% chance to become the next prime minister, with her rival Andrea Leadsom a 7/2 (22%). I would however remind you that the bookies got the result of the EU referendum wrong.


Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, and a May supporter, says the home secretary is the “unity” candidate:

There is no question that she unites the party, in the same way she will unite the country.


Jane Garvey, the presenter of BBC Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour, is having a JFK moment:

https://twitter.com/janegarvey1/status/751081993505570816


Week ahead notes from economists are normally dry affairs about upcoming statistics.

But in the past few weeks they’ve become much more about policy and much less about economics.

Right now, they are starting to pile-up inwith details of the ballot result.

Its all a sign of just how jittery the markets are, with the Bank of England one of the few organisations providing a clear policy lead. All eyes will be on the rate setting meeting next week to see whether the BoE cuts rates to try and give some stimulus to the economy.


Week ahead notes from economists are normally dry affairs about upcoming statistics.

But in the past few weeks they’ve become much more about policy and much less about economics.

Right now, they are starting to pile-up inwith details of the ballot result.

Its all a sign of just how jittery the markets are, with the Bank of England one of the few organisations providing a clear policy lead. All eyes will be on the rate setting meeting next week to see whether the BoE cuts rates to try and give some stimulus to the economy.


Week ahead notes from economists are normally dry affairs about upcoming statistics.

But in the past few weeks they’ve become much more about policy and much less about economics.

Right now, they are starting to pile-up with details of the ballot result.

It’s all a sign of just how jittery the markets are, with the Bank of England one of the few organisations providing a clear policy lead. All eyes will be on the rate setting meeting next week to see whether the BoE cuts rates to try and give some stimulus to the economy.


Margaret Thatcher, the last and only female leader of the Conservatives remained at the helm of her party for 15 years, matching only Winston Churchill for longevity since Lord Salisbury stepped down in 1902 after 17 years. Mrs Thatcher also led the country for just over 11 years, making her the longest serving prime minister in modern times.


Nigel Farage – who led the UK Independence Party throughout the referendum campaign has just endorsed Leadsom:

https://twitter.com/Nigel_Farage/status/751081845534629888


We have a slight correction from political blogger Guido Fawkes on his observation about second placed candidates in the race to become Tory leader after an intervention by Danny Finkelstein, the political commentator, former Downing Street advisor and Tory peer, see our post at 4:50m:

https://twitter.com/GuidoFawkes/status/751085863078129664


A bit more from Jacob-Rees Mogg, a former Gove supporter, on switching his backing to Andrea Leadsom, from the FT’s Sebastian Payne:

I support Andrea, it was a close choice between her and Michael. She will make an excellent prime minister. I think in spite of Mrs May’s many qualities, we need someone who fundamentally believes in leaving the EU to negotiate our exit


Here’s some more on Andrea Leadsom from the FT’s Jim Pickard:

. . . with an endorsement from Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, Mrs Leadsom still has a chance of seizing the leadership of Britain’s ruling party and thus the prime minister’s job.

Mrs Leadsom entered parliament in 2010 and has served in junior ministerial roles, most recently as energy minister. Yet her popularity among Conservative members has been buoyed by her leading role in the campaign to leave the EU. Conservative members are thought to have voted by a large majority in favour of leaving the bloc.

Full story here


Conservative Home, the website that aims to reflect the opinion of grassroot Tory members, is backing Theresa May:

https://twitter.com/ConHome/status/751100407548612608


A quick piece of analysis from the FT’s Sebastian Payne:

Tories are generally pleased with this result. It is the contest needed for the party to piece itself together after the bruising referendum campaign: a reluctant Remainer against an unabashed Brexiter. It also gives the Conservatives bragging rights about having a second female leader — while the opposition Labour party has failed to have even one.

Mr Gove’s ejection is unsurprising — his betrayal of Boris Johnson, former London mayor and fellow Leave campaigner, was not taken well by Tory MPs amid concerns that he was no longer suitable for the highest office. Although Mr Gove’s bid is over, the next prime minister should remember he is a great reformer and still has much to offer. Many MPs would like to see him stay as justice secretary or serve elsewhere in the cabinet.

Read the full piece here.


We are going to wrap up our live coverage of the Tory party leadership contest, which in the second and final round of voting by MPs saw Michael Gove eliminated. This leaves reluctant Remainer Theresa May to face off against Andrea Leadsom, one of the high-profile supporters of the succesful Brexit campaign, in a final ballot of the 125,000 party members. A result is expected in early September.

The FT’s Jim Pickard reports that Mrs Leadsom’s supporters are confident they can overtake the more experienced Mrs May in the race to become only the second female prime minister of the UK and, barring a snap general election, the person who will lead the negotiations on the country’s exit from the EU.

For further coverage please go to FT.com