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Voting to pick a new Prime Minister of the UK starts today

Home Secretary Theresa May remains a front-runner, despite backing the Remain side in the referendum.

CONSERVATIVE MPS WILL begin the process of electing a new Prime Minister today.

MPs will vote to whittle the field of five candidates down to two today. The surviving two will then go before Conservative Party membership to decide the new party leader and, consequently, Prime Minister.

Prime Minister David Cameron stepped down two weeks ago in the wake of the Brexit vote result.

Home Secretary Theresa May remains a front-runner, despite backing the Remain side in the referendum.

pjimage (10) The five candidates from top left; Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Theresa May, Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb Source: PA

May, who had been viewed as the outright favourite in the contest, was dealt a double blow on yesterday when a poll showed her slightly behind rival Andrea Leadsom in the race, according to a ConservativeHome survey of party members.

Then former mayor of London Boris Johnson, who dramatically pulled out of a bid to run himself last week, threw his weight behind Leadsom, an energy minister who campaigned for the Leave side.

“Andrea Leadsom offers the zap, the drive, and the determination essential for the next leader of this country,” he said in a statement.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb and former Defence Secretary Liam Fox are all trailing May and Leadsom in the poll.

Movement

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who yesterday announce he was stepping down, said that May was “spreading fear” by not confirming whether she supported the right of EU citizens to stay in the post-Brexit UK.

Britain EU Source: AP/Press Association Images

Leadsom insisted she would drive a hard bargain during Brexit negotiations with Brussels, if elected.

“I know how to strike a deal in a tough negotiation. And I know, as a woman, how to succeed in a man’s world and how to fight the unfortunate prejudice that many working mothers still experience,” she said.

The former banker added that “freedom of movement will end”, potentially putting her on a collision course with other European leaders.

May has also said she would push for a new trade deal that limited immigration.

But one of her supporters, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, said there would be a trade-off between accessing the EU single market and allowing free movement of people.

With AFP reporting

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