Shortly after midday on Monday the Energy Secretary and Conservative Party Leadership-contender, Andrea Leadsom, withdrew from the contest to replace David Cameron as Conservative Party Leader and Prime Minister of the UK. This means Theresa May, Home Secretary, will be the next UK Prime Minister and the second woman to the hold the position since Margaret Thatcher. Simultaneously Angela Eagle has official launched her campaign to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.
Leadsom withdrew over a harsh weekend for her and her campaign; following an interview with The Times where she spoke about motherhood, and how that made her more invested in the future of the country, in contrast to Theresa May who did not have children. The reaction from both the public and her colleagues in Parliament has seen her re-think her campaign and decided to withdraw.
For the Conservatives a drawn-out 9 week leadership campaign now will not take place, and we can expect an orderly transfer of power from Cameron to May. Cameron has confirmed that his last ‘Prime Ministers Questions’ will be on Wednesday, then he will take a trip to Buckingham Palace to inform Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of his resignation and advise her to summon Theresa May to become the next Prime Minister. This means a reshuffle will follow over Thursday & Friday as Theresa sets out her Government.
The Home Secretary will be seen as a steady hand to take over at No. 10 Downing Street; this may do much to calm the Markets as both the Pound Sterling and the FTSE 250, which is more focused on the UK market then the more international FTSE 100, have both rebounded on the news of her ascension in the ranks. May, the MP for Maidenhead since 1997, has served as Home Secretary since 2010, making her the longest serving Home Secretary in sixty years. She served in the Shadow Cabinets of William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and David Cameron. While she supported a Remain vote in the recent UK Referendum (commonly referred to as Brexit) she has committed herself to following the result, and starting negotiations for the UK to withdraw from the European Union.
Meanwhile the UK Labour party continues to tear itself apart. Angela Eagle was in the middle of announcing her leadership bid when the majority of the political reporters left to cover Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal from the Conservative Party leadership bid. Eagle, The MP for Wallasey since 1992, had served under Gordon Brown in Government and in the Shadow Cabinets of Ed Milliband and Jeremy Corbyn before she & twenty other Labour Shadow Cabinet members resigned. Corbyn’s loss of a ‘No Confidence’ vote in the last few weeks was followed by protracted negotiations which failed over the weekend; Eagle now sees no choice but to challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the Leadership of the Labour Party, having submitted her nomination to the National Executive Committee (NEC) with signatures of 20% of Labour MPs & MEPs.
It will be now for the NEC to decide whether or not Jeremy Corbyn will need to get nominations to be in the contest, or if he is entitled to be automatically on the ballot. If they decide that he needs to be nominated then it will be decided in court as there is conflicting interpretations of the rules of the Labour Party.
Eagle may also not be the only name on the ballot as Owen Smith, MP for Pontypridd, has yet to declare whether or not he will challenge for the leadership.
Labour cannot now take advantage of a long leadership debate in the Conservative Party and must now attempt to unify either under Jeremy Corbyn or under a new leader.