Theresa May wins first round of Tory votes
By Eszter Zalan
British home affairs secretary Theresa May won the most votes in an internal Conservative Party ballot to choose the next PM held on Tuesday (5 July).
May won the support of 165 MPs, followed by Andrea Leadsom, a junior energy minister, on 66, and justice secretary Michael Gove, who was a prominent campaigner to leave the EU, on 48.
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Former defence minister Liam Fox, who got the fewest votes, 16, was eliminated from the race and backed May. Pensions minister Stephen Crabb, who placed fourth with 34 votes, pulled out and also backed May.
Tory MPs will keep voting until there are only two-candidates left, then it will be up to the rank and file party members to choose the next UK leader, who will have to navigate the country through exit talks with the EU.
Thursday will see the second round of voting among MPs. The final victor will be announced on 9 September.
Before the vote, pro-Remain May came under fire for a TV interview in which she said the UK might eject EU migrants if EU countries do not allow British people to live and work on their home territories.
Her main rival, Andrea Leadsom said: “We must give them [EU workers] certainty. There’s no way they will be bargaining chips in our negotiation.”
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister said May’s stance on EU nationals living in the UK was “disgraceful” and “disgusting”. Even the pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage criticised May.
May's team clarified her remarks on Tuesday, saying: "Her position is that we will guarantee the legal status of EU nationals in Britain as long as British nationals living in EU countries have their status guaranteed too."
However, this still suggested conditionality between EU national's rights in the UK, and UK citizens living in the EU.
The first round of Tory voting was overshadowed by the flight of property investors from Britain and the pound hitting a three-decades low.
In a sign of the serious economic consequences of Brexit, the pound hit a new 31-year low, now down more than 12 percent since the referendum on 23 June.
Three funds investing in British property also said they were suspending trading because too many people were rushing to liquidate their assets.
The Bank of England tried to calm nerves on Tuesday, but cited commercial real estate as one of the risks sectors in the British economy.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney also said capital requirements for banks had been relaxed to free up money for loans for homes and businesses.
"The bank can be expected to take whatever action is needed to promote monetary and financial stability, and as a consequence, support the real economy," Carney said.
Before the EU ballot, Leave campaigners dismissed economic concerns of the Remain camp as scaremongering and labelled their from economic projections "Project Fear". They said that Britain would prosper once it became "independent" and free to negotiate its own trade deals.