The race for who would succeed David Cameron as the U.K. Prime Minister was narrowed to two names on Thursday, June 7 with the emergence of Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom.
The two women emerged after a vote eliminated the Secretary of State Justice Michael Gove as May finished ahead of Leadsom with 199 votes to 84.
Cameron had announced his resignation after failing in his bid for Britain to vote “remain” in the June 23 referendum that asked voters whether the U.K. should stay in the European Union.
The final vote is scheduled for September 9, when members of the 150,000-strong Conservative Party will decide and whoever wins will become the U.K.’s second female prime minister. Margaret Thatcher was the first in 1979.
May, 59, who has served as home secretary since 2010, has a long track record in government. She campaigned for the “remain” vote in the referendum while Leadsom supported the “leave” campaign.
If she wins as is widely expected, she would be tasked with negotiating the U.K.’s exit from the EU.
Date of birth: 1 October 1956
Current Position: Home secretary
Marital Status: Married.
Education: Mainly state-educated at Wheatley Park Comprehensive School with a brief time at an independent school; St Hugh’s College, Oxford.
Her position on Brexit: Supported the Remain campaign but says vote to come out must be respected. “Brexit means Brexit. The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door and no second referendum.”
May is one of the longest-serving home secretaries in British history, has long been regarded as a potential future leader of the party.
She was first elected to Parliament in 1997 as the MP for Maidenhead
Mrs May joined the shadow cabinet in 1999 as shadow education secretary.
In 2002 she became the party’s first female chairman. She ruffled feathers at that year’s Conservative conference when she told party members that they were seen as members of the “nasty party”. Some in the party have never forgiven her for it.
Mrs May became the UK’s most senior female politician after being appointed home secretary in 2010.
In 2014, she stunned the annual conference of the Police Federation by telling them corruption problems were not just limited to “a few bad apples” and threatening to end the federation’s automatic right to enrol officers as its members.
In the same year, she got into a bitter public row with cabinet colleague Michael Gove over the best way to combat Islamist extremism, which ended with Mr Gove having to apologise to the prime minister and Mrs May having to sack a long-serving special adviser.
Prior to her parliamentary career, Mrs May worked at the Bank of England, and rose to become head of the European Affairs Unit of the Association for Payment Clearing Services.
Mrs May, who revealed in 2013 that she has type 1 diabetes, grew up in Oxfordshire, the only child of a Church of England vicar. She met her future husband Philip at university, where she studied geography, and they were married in 1980. The couple have no children.