Britain’s next prime minister will be a woman after Thursday’s second round of voting by Conservative lawmakers whittled the contenders down to Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom.
It will be only the second time Britain will have a female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, who led the country from 1979 to 1990.
May did not back Britain’s exit from the European Union while Leadstom was a key Brexit supporter.
In the second round of voting, May received support from 199 of the party’s 330 lawmakers. Leadsom got 84 votes, Reuters reports.
The results eliminated from the race Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who received 46 votes.
The contest will now be thrown open to the party membership by postal vote, a process that means some 150,000 people will choose the next prime minister at a time of historic economic and political change. It will mark the first time a UK leader is chosen directly by the party membership.
The next prime minister will have to navigate difficult divorce talks with the EU and lead the country as it reassess its foreign relations in the wake of its decision to leave the bloc.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he would step down by October.
The party has said it plans to announce the new leader on Sept. 9, giving the candidates two months to actively campaign for members’ support.
May, speaking immediately after the votes were announced, said the results show the Conservative Party can unite under her leadership, and that now her job is to take her case to the party membership.
“That case is based on three things: because we need proven leadership to negotiate the best deal for leaving the European Union; to unite our party and our country; and to make Britain a country that works not for the privileged few, but for everyone,” she said.
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