In keeping with other recent events in the U.K., the Tory leadership race ended abruptly and unexpectedly. One of the last two contenders in the Conservative leadership race has dropped out, making Theresa May the de facto winner:
Andrea Leadsom has withdrawn from the Tory leadership race, saying ‘the best interests of our country are best served by the immediate appointment of a strong and well-supported Prime Minister’ and that she did not have sufficient support to lead a strong and stable government.
She said Theresa May was ‘ideally placed’ to implement Brexit and that she would withdraw immediately so that the new Prime Minister could be appointed immediately.
May was the the stronger of the two candidates, and she would presumably have won if Leadsom had remained in the race, but Leadsom’s decision saves them the time and effort of spending the next two months waiting to confirm that. Leadsom was floundering in recent days so much that “even her supporters had come away from the past few days concluding that she was naive and on a steep learning curve.” Fraser Nelson noted:
She said in her resignation statement that there was not “sufficient support” from her colleagues – perhaps a nod to how many of them said that they would quit the party if she won.
As I said last week, it would have been extraordinary for Leadsom to have made the leap to being prime minister, and it seems the consensus is that she wasn’t remotely ready to make that leap. Nelson adds:
In the four days since the formal leadership race began, it became painfully obvious that Ms Leadsom was simply unfit for the job.
Given that sort of competition, May wasn’t in much danger of losing. The leadership contest won’t be re-opened, so May will be the next prime minister. How quickly she can take over and start forming her own government remain to be seen, but the U.K. should have a new government much sooner than expected.
Update: Cameron announced he will be out by Wednesday, and May will take over.