On this day in 2016, Theresa May is elected Prime Minister by the Conservative Party MPs.
After David Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minster, as a reaction to the EU-Referendum Result, as the Party in Government, the Conservatives were tasked with electing a new leader of the Party to become the Prime Minister.
Other well-known figures were amongst the debate to take up the mantle; ex-Mayor of London Boris Johnson – a strong candidate as head of the Conservative ‘Leave’ Campaign for Brexit which ultimately succeeded, Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Justice at the time).
Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
Whilst Johnson pulled out after claiming he could not provide the unity or leadership necessary to run the Party, which was when Gove launched his leadership campaign. Whilst Johnson decided to endorse Andrea Leadsom for Party leader, Michael Gove, previously seen as a key ally of the Johnson campaign, who said (earlier that morning) that he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that Johnson “cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.” The Telegraph stated that Gove’s actions in undermining Johnson’s leadership aspirations constituted “the most spectacular political assassination in a generation.” In the mean time, Michael Heseltine stated that Johnson had “ripped apart” the Conservative Party and that “He’s created the greatest constitutional crisis of modern times. He knocked billions off the value of the nation’s savings”.
Michael Gove, MP for Surrey Heath, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Meanwhile, according to James Kirkup, MPs weren’t excited by the prospect of having Theresa May as Prime Minister. Nevertheless, by 5 July 2016, Gove was in third place in the Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 2016 behind Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom; the latter had gained an endorsement from Boris Johnson. Some political analysts predicted that Gove might quit the race if he was unable to beat Leadsom in the first round of voting. Later that day, it was announced that Theresa May won the first round of voting, with support from 165 MPs, while Andrea Leadsom received 66 votes and Gove trailed with 48.
Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire, Leader of the House of Commons.
Gove was eliminated in the second ballot after receiving only 46 votes, compared to 199 for Theresa May and 84 for Andrea Leadsom. He subsequently told the media that he was “naturally disappointed” and described his two opponents as “formidable politicians”, welcoming the fact that the next PM would be female. He also encouraged a “civilised, inclusive, positive and optimistic debate”
But just a week after Johnson’s endorsement, Leadsom dropped out of the race, leaving Theresa May the only candidate to vote for. Thus creating the ‘unelected’ and an illegitimate Prime Minister, as she was technically not voted in, which has changed due to the Snap-Election of the 8th of June 2017, which May herself had called.
Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.