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Britain set for female prime minister; second in UK history

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LONDON — Britain will be led by a woman prime minister through its complicated divorce with the European Union, it was revealed Thursday, as the sole remaining male candidate was knocked out of the race to succeed David Cameron.

This sign appeared in East London on June 24, 2016 following the news of Brexit. (Stefano Terranova/Instagram)

This sign appeared in East London on June 24, 2016 following the news of Brexit. (Stefano Terranova/Instagram)

The winner will become the country’s second female prime minister following Margaret Thatcher, who held office from 1979 to 1990.

Conservative lawmakers chose MPs Theresa May, the home secretary, and Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister, to fight in a runoff contest for leadership of Britain’s governing party.

May received 199 votes in a ballot of Conservative members of Parliament on Thursday. Leadsom received 84 and Michael Gove, the education secretary, got 46 votes and was eliminated from the race.

Some 150,000 Conservative Party members will now vote in the leadership contest, with the result announced Sept. 9.

May, Britain’s home secretary since 2010, told journalists outside Parliament that she was “delighted to have won so much support” from colleagues.

“I’ve won votes from Conservative MPs from across the party — from left to right, from leavers and remainers, MPs from the length and breadth of the country,” she said. “This vote shows that the Conservative Party can come together, and that under my leadership, it will.”

The winner will replace Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned after Britain decided last month in a referendum to leave the European Union in a vote dubbed “Brexit.” He will officially step down in October.