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The Next Prime Minister Will Be A Woman: Where Do May And Leadsom Stand On The Issues That Affect You?

Photo: Getty Images.
It’s official: the next UK prime minister will either be Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom. This afternoon, Conservative MPs knocked out Justice Secretary Michael Gove in the second round of voting for the next candidate to lead their party and the country.

This means that on the 9th of September, the UK will have its second ever female PM, which in itself is a tiny progressive step towards gender equality in politics.

But as a BBC journalist helpfully reminded viewers recently, "May and Leadsom may both be women, but they have quite different views". Some of these views are more conducive to furthering equality and progressive values than others.

Theresa May is the current favourite by quite a long way and public support for her, particularly among women on social media, seems to have strengthened since Conservative Ken Clarke was caught off-guard calling her a “bloody difficult woman” on Sky News. By contrast, Leadsom’s CV has been ripped to shreds by the mainstream press.

You won’t have a say over who becomes the next PM unless you’re a Conservative party member, but here we've rounded up their views on some of the issues most likely to affect you.

Crime against women
Theresa May, as Home Secretary for six years, made moves to tackle violent crime against women and girls. She was vocal about police failure to investigate rape, and made tackling modern-day slavery one of her main priorities. She also set up inquiries into child sex abuse and undercover policing, after a controversy involving undercover officers betraying women.

However, she failed to ringfence national funding for women’s refuges, The Guardian reported, and supports immigration detention centres.

Unlike May, Leadsom has never held a Cabinet position, so it’s unclear where she stands on violence against women. However, in the past she voted against laws promoting equality and human rights, and for restricting the scope of legal aid.

Both candidates voted for raising undergraduate tuition fees in England to £9,000 per year in 2010. However, May voted against fees in the past, while Leadsom has always supported them. Leadsom also voted to end the education maintenance allowance (EMA), which provided financial support to 16-19 year olds in training and further education, while May didn’t vote.

May backed the campaign to remain in the EU, but she is Eurosceptic and after the result announced that “Brexit means Brexit”. As such, she would work towards Britain leaving the EU as PM and she is experienced when it comes to negotiating in Europe, The Guardian reported.

Leadsom was a vocal 'Leave' supporter in the run-up to the referendum and believes the UK would thrive outside the EU, a view that makes her an attractive candidate for UKIP supporters. However, somewhat awkwardly, in the past she said losing the UK's AAA credit rating would be “seriously bad news” – something that is now a post-referendum reality.

Leadsom once said small businesses shouldn’t have to offer basic rights to their workers, including minimum wage, maternity or paternity rights, unfair dismissal rights or pension rights. She has voted against funding to secure jobs for long-time unemployed young people.

By contrast, as the Conservative equality spokesperson in 2008, May made comments supporting equal maternity and paternity leave. However, she also voted against spending on jobs for long-time unemployed young people.

Gay supporters of May have compared her to a parent who has “come to terms with” her gay child, BBC Newsbeat reported. In the past she voted against reducing the age of consent for gay people, the repeal of Section 28 (the prohibition of promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material) and civil partnerships. But she voted for equal marriage in 2013 and has a group of gay followers on Twitter.

It’s fair to say Leadsom wouldn’t be a very socially progressive PM. She is staunchly pro-marriage, having written on her personal blog that “marriage IS KEY to the safety of our society”, and she blamed social problems on single parenthood. But she is less keen on marriage between same-sex couples – she abstained from voting on gay marriage in 2013 and said today that she “didn’t like” the equal marriage legislation. She has also implied that straight couples should be ahead of gay couples in the adoption queue.