Michael Gove reacts to potential new PM, as polls show Theresa May to be massively in the lead

May or Andrea Leadsom will be the first female PM is over a quarter of a century

Michael Gove reacts to potential new PM, as polls show Theresa May to be massively in the lead

British Home Secretary Theresa May is seen here in Brussels | Image: © European Union

Michael Gove says the two candidates hoping to be the next British prime minister are formidable politicians.

The eliminated contender in the race to replace David Cameron says Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom will lead the country well.

Conservative Party members will make the final decision in September.

MP James Cleverly - who voted to pull out of the EU - explains why he's supporting the Home Secretary - who campaigned to stay in:

Meanwhile, Theresa May is the top choice to be the next Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader, according to a new Sky Data poll.

Almost half of those surveyed said Mrs May should be the next PM, while Andrea Leadsom's support sat on 25%, with a further 28% saying they did not know who to choose.

By the 9th of September, either Mrs May or Mrs Leadsom will be the country's first female leader for 26 years.

In the second round of voting by Tory MPs, Mrs May picked up 199 votes against Energy Minister Mrs Leadsom's 84.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove was eliminated from the race after gaining the support of just 46 MPs.

Pro-EU Mrs May and pro-Brexit Mrs Leadsom will now go head-to-head in a ballot of around 125,000 Conservative members across the country in the next few weeks.

But their past positions on the EU seem to matter little to most voters.

55% of those surveyed said the new Prime Minister should not necessarily be someone who campaigned to leave the bloc.

37% said the new Prime Minister should be someone who backed the Brexit campaign and 8% said they did not know.

However, older voters - who tended to vote Leave in the referendum - were more likely to back Mrs Leadsom (33% of over-55s, compared with 14% of 18-34s.

But Mrs May still has 50% support, against Mrs Leadsom's 33% among the over-55s).

Head of Sky Data Harry Carr said: "After six years as Home Secretary, Theresa May is undoubtedly benefiting from the higher profile she enjoys among the wider public. However, frontrunners do not have a good record in recent Conservative leadership contests. Andrea Leadsom will be looking to build her profile among Conservative Party members and the wider public over the coming months. And she does not have to look far for an example of how quickly things can change if she can make a breakthrough - with David Cameron initially ranked among the outsiders in the last such contest in 2005. At this early stage, Mrs May holds the advantage and the backing of the public, but the premiership remains very much in the balance."