One of the two finalists for British prime minister pulled out of the contest Monday, a move that could effectively cede the job to home affairs secretary Theresa May.
Andrea Leadsom, the country’s energy minister, abandoned her campaign just days after she was voted by Conservative lawmakers to be one of two contenders to campaign for the keys to 10 Downing Street. The contest was expected to last through the summer. Her withdrawal adds another twist to a British political season that has been marked by constant surprise and upheaval.
Leadsom, a relative unknown in British politics, had advocated for a British exit from the European Union. She came under heavy criticism over the weekend after suggesting to the Times of London that motherhood would make her a better fit for prime minister than the childless May.
May, who has run the country’s domestic security for the past six years, had campaigned for Britain to stay in the European Union. But she repeated Monday that "Brexit means Brexit” and that she will proceed with the country's plan to formally depart the 28-member bloc.
Britain voted last month in a national referendum to get out of the European Union, leading Prime Minister David Cameron to announce plans to resign after his pro-E.U. side suffered the loss.
The winner of the leadership contest was supposed to take over from Cameron shortly after results were to be announced on Sept. 9. Now that May is the only candidate, that timetable could be accelerated.
It was unclear, however, whether another candidate could be selected to take Leadsom's place on the ballot.
In announcing her decision, Leadsom endorsed May to take the job and argued that she be allowed to take over as soon as possible. Leadsom said her departure will allow the country to move forward with its Brexit plans as quickly as possible.
"Business needs certainty,” she said.
The sudden shift in the leadership race also coincides with a visit to New York by Britain’s finance minister, George Osborne, in efforts to calm global investors uneasy over Britain’s plans for an E.U. exit.
(Courtesy: The Washington Post)