Tory leadership battle: Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom to be next British PM

Two women will go head-to-head in vote of party members

theresa may

Home Secretary Theresa May makes a statement outside the Palace of Westminster, in London, today | PA Images

British Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom will battle it out for the Conservative leadership after leading Brexit campaigner Michael Gove was eliminated from the contest in the second round of voting.

Mrs May appears to be the front-runner for the top job after she picked up 199 votes from Tory MPs, while Mrs Leadsom received 84, with Mr Gove on 46.

The two women will now go head-to-head in a vote of around 150,000 Conservative members across the country later this year.

After winning the most votes from parliamentary colleagues, Mrs May said the UK needs "strong, proven" leadership to handle Brexit negotiations and unite the country.

She said: "I am delighted to have won so much support from my colleagues. This vote shows that the Conservative Party can come together - and under my leadership it will.

"I have said all along that this election needs to be a proper contest. And now it is time for me - and my team - to put my case to the Conservative Party membership.

"We need strong, proven leadership to negotiate the best deal for Britain as we leave the European Union, to unite our party and our country, and to make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us."

Last Thursday, Mr Gove shocked MPs by announcing he planned to stand in the leadership election despite saying countless times he would not.

A couple of hours after Mr Gove’s announcement, Boris Johnson - who had believed Mr Gove would back him - stunned his supporters by announcing he would not stand.

Mr Gove and Mrs Leadsom backed a Brexit, while Mrs May was on the Remain side in the EU referendum.