Conservative Party candidate Theresa May is set to be the new UK prime minister as her intra-party opponent, Andrea Leadsom, dropped out of the race on Monday in another post-Brexit political upheaval.
May received 199 votes from other Members of Parliament versus Leadsom's 84 votes. The home office secretary is now expected to be formally confirmed by the Conservative Party board and the chairman of the Tory 1922 committee, clearing the way for her to be appointed prime minister by Tory MPs, who also have a majority in the House of Commons.
That means the Conservative Party will remain in power, without a popular vote, following last month's shocking referendum to remove the UK from the European Union and current Prime Minister David Cameron's subsequent resignation. In fact, the Guardian's political reporter Andrew Sparrow wrote Monday there is a chance May could take over as soon as this Thursday.
Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron slammed the decision, releasing a statement that read, "Just 13 months after the last election the Conservatives have plunged the UK into chaos. It is simply inconceivable that Theresa May should be crowned prime minister without even having won an election in her own party, let alone the country."
"There must be an election. The Conservatives must not be allowed to ignore the electorate, their mandate is shattered and lies in ruins," Farron said. "Britain deserves better than this Tory stitch up. May has not set out an agenda, and has no right to govern. She has not won an election and the public must have their say. From her time as home secretary we know she is divisive, illiberal and calculating."
May, who actually voted Remain, said Monday she would not interfere with the results and would steer a swift departure from the EU.
May has been home secretary since 2010. She was responsible for introducing and promoting a slate of controversial measures, including a mass surveillance bill that opponents dubbed the "Snooper's Charter" for its invasive policies.
In fact, as the Independent noted on Monday, much of May's decades-long career has been marked by opposition to legislation that "guarantees equality and human rights."
The Independent writes:
The MP and home secretary has repeatedly indicated that she would look to repeal laws that guarantee human rights in Britain. She also has a record of voting against equality legislation and measures that prevent climate change.
Most recently, at the end of May, Theresa May voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act. She has repeatedly criticised human rights legislation for limiting the powers of government – a position that has led to criticism even from fellow cabinet members.
In 2013, Ms May voted against a law that would have made it illegal for people to discriminate on the basis of caste.
She was absent for votes on human rights protections in the immigration bill in 2014 and for another bill that looks to repeal the human rights act, in 2012.
May also has a spotty record on previous measures that would have strengthened Britain's integration with the EU, and has consistently voted in favor of war in Iraq, and for the deployment of UK troops in Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya.
Moreover, as the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland wrote in an op-ed on Monday, May's relatively smooth rise to the top—becoming the UK's second female prime minister in the process—was aided by the Conservatives' "hunger for power."
"It's that age-old Tory will to power," Freedland wrote. "For nearly two centuries, it has shaped British politics. Theresa May shows she has every intention of keeping it that way."
This ambition, Freedland says, has historically helped Tories quickly resolve their internal conflicts in order to maintain control over Parliament while tensions continue to grow amid the arguably more principled Labour Party.
In fact, also Monday, Labour's former shadow cabinet minister Angela Eagle formally announced that she would challenge current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in a referendum after Corbyn lost a no-confidence vote in the tumultuous post-Brexit days. Eagle's announcement fell under the media radar as Leadsom simultaneously announced she was pulling out of the race for prime minister.
During Leadsom's speech, one observer reportedly shouted out, "Another Brexiteer leaves the scene of the crime."